Placer County votes to prohibit commercial marijuana grows | SierraSun.com

Placer County votes to prohibit commercial marijuana grows

Special to the Sun

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AUBURN, Calif. — Commercial medical marijuana cultivation and sale will not be allowed in unincorporated Placer County, after the board of supervisors on Tuesday voted 3-2 to limit marijuana cultivation to small, indoor grows by medical marijuana patients only.

The board directed county staff to return with an ordinance codifying the approach they approved for their consideration in the coming weeks.

The individual right under California state law to marijuana for personal medical use is unaffected by Tuesday's vote.

The board voted in January to approve a placeholder ordinance asserting the county's authority to regulate.

After enacting the placeholder ordinance, the board directed county staff to seek broad public input in developing recommendations for an approach to regulation for their consideration, and adopted the following goals for any potential regulation:

Promoting public health and safety.

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Reducing the size of the illicit market for cultivation and retail sale.

Preventing non-medical access and use by youth.

Reducing environmental harm to water, habitat and wildlife.

Providing clear criteria for responsible businesses and patients who wish to operate within the law.

Developing a fair system of regulation and taxation that supports public purposes.

Providing flexibility and authority for modification or adoption of additional measures into the regulatory process to ensure effective implementation.

As staff explained in previous presentations to the board and community members, a sizeable and mostly-unregulated medical marijuana industry already exists in Placer County, resulting from the absence of a clear county ordinance.

Drug trafficking, crime, environmental damage and neighborhood nuisances are among the impacts that stem from the unregulated market in Placer County, all of which the county proposed to reduce through a clear regulatory framework.

Over 70 percent of Placer County's population lives in cities.

Since January, county staff has conducted or presented at more than 25 public meetings, including town hall meetings in Auburn and Rocklin, to solicit input on the direction of a potential regulation.

Placer's incorporated cities of Lincoln, Rocklin and Roseville sent letters to the board indicating opposition to allowing commercial medical marijuana cultivation and sales in the county's unincorporated areas, and the Placer County Sheriff's Office and District Attorney Scott Owens also expressed opposition.

The law enforcement community and the cities also spoke during public comment at the meeting, reiterating their opposition to commercial cultivation.

In a presentation to the board on their findings, staff outlined the feedback they received from community members on a regulatory direction and presented for the board's consideration five regulation model alternatives.

Those alternatives ranged from permitting limited personal cultivation to a comprehensive regulatory program that would allow for commercial medical marijuana cultivation and sale.

For any of them, staff recommended a slow, conservative approach, allowing for frequent review and adjustment. Staff also recommended convening an advisory council comprised of city representatives, concerned citizens, law enforcement and other stakeholders to continually evaluate and make recommendations on the county's regulatory approach.

The board heard nearly two hours of public comment at Tuesday's meeting. Board members thanked the community and partner agencies for their input throughout the past few months in shaping the recommendations to the board.

"There's no one I've spoken to in any part of this last 12-month period that didn't share the concern that we need to regulate in a way that dramatically minimizes access of this drug illegally, but particularly to the adolescent population," said Board Chairman Robert Weygandt.

All board members reiterated their support for patients' right to access medical marijuana under state law.

This article was provided by Placer County. Visit placer.ca.gov to learn more.