Marin Supervisors Ban Recreational Cannabis

Board of Supervisors opts for local control on business activities – 

img_9749San Rafael, CA – The Marin County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on February 7 to ban non-medical cannabis business activities in unincorporated areas.

“Our primary focus is to consider medical cannabis dispensaries over the next few months,” said Board President Judy Arnold. “Banning nonmedical cannabis business activities allows us to preserve local control rather than accept state-imposed guidelines.”

California voters passed Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, in November 2016. It allows local governments to develop local ordinances to govern  OR to ban business activities for non-medical cannabis business activities. Adults over 21 can still use cannabis and cultivate up to six plants indoors following certain restrictions. 

According to the County Press Release:  “The new County ordinance, passed at a hearing that lasted less than 5 minutes with no public comment.”

In speaking to a member of the public who did not speak up at the hearing, I was informed that he had a difficult time finding the information for the hearing and that he believes most interested people in Marin were unaware of the hearing today with little to no outreach by the County.

The County Ordinance contains two prohibitions:

First, it prohibits all recreational cannabis business activities in unincorporated Marin, including manufacturing and retail distribution. Second, it prohibits outdoor cultivation. The local ban gives the County time to implement and learn from the licensing program for medical cannabis dispensaries that is currently underway.

With the ban on nonmedical cannabis, residents living near a licensed medical cannabis dispensary in the future would be assured that such a business would be licensed for medical purposes only.

After speaking to many voters, I gleaned that many Marin voters, when voting for the State ballot, believed that they were voting for the activities relating to the recreational use of  cannabis. They were under the belief that when provided with the choice as outlined in the ballot, the Board of Supervisors would ensure that the voters wish FOR recreational use would be implemented. Many did not realize that their vote gave license to a ban on the recreational activities in unincorporated Marin. Many do not realize that the choice has been exercised against recreational business activities.  Will this set the tome for the incorporated areas? And then again when push comes to shove voters have also shown up to oppose outlets in their immediate vicinity.

The County is hosting three public meetings so residents can learn more about applicants and locations for proposed medical cannabis dispensaries.

The first meeting in the Tamalpais Valley area south of Mill Valley attracted more about 150 people, and the second was scheduled for 6 p.m. February 7 at Lagunitas School in the San Geronimo Valley. The final one is at 6 p.m. February 16 in the Marin County Board of Supervisors chamber, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael. No decisions are being made at any of the meetings; they are designed for the advisory committee members to hear public feedback, concerns and suggestions.

Although cannabis is considered an illegal drug by the federal government, Proposition 215 has since 1996 ensured that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use cannabis for medical purposes upon receiving a recommendation from a physician. The County’s ordinance is consistent with the state’s Compassionate Use Act and Medical Cannabis Program. A licensed dispensary would have to be least 800 feet from schools, public parks, smoke shops, and other cannabis dispensaries to qualify for a permit.

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