Little progress made on medical cannabis in Placer County | SierraSun.com

Little progress made on medical cannabis in Placer County

Adults in California can smoke weed everyday now if they choose, but in Placer County it can still be tough for even medical patients to access the drug.

Following an update from its newly created Medical Cannabis Policy Workgroup on Aug. 15, the Placer County Board of Supervisors directed staff to explore a change to cannabis regulations to allow for a research facility "to study the medical efficacy of cannabis."

The majority of California voters OK'd the use of recreational marijuana by adults last fall when they approved Proposition 64, but Placer County was one of 18 counties where the measure didn't pass.

The state law makes it legal for adults to consume marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes for personal use, but it left most of decisions up to local governments.

The majority of California voters OK’d the use of recreational marijuana by adults last fall when they approved Proposition 64, but Placer County was one of 18 counties where the measure didn’t pass.

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The Placer County Board of Supervisors voted on Nov. 22 to prohibit all commercial cannabis activities, and created the workgroup to determine how to shape this policy in a way that didn't limit medical patients from accessing the drug.

According to a statement from the county, the board is not supportive of allowing medical dispensaries in the county.

"For me, I want to focus on an option that will provide immediate benefit," said District 1 Supervisor Jack Duran in a statement. "One opportunity I see here is to advance scientific research and testing to better understand the medicinal benefits of cannabinoids found in cannabis."

Placer County Supervisors Jim Holmes and Jennifer Montgomery are part of the workgroup, as well as Placer County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Oldham, Agricultural Commissioner Josh Huntsinger, Director of Environmental Health Wesley Nicks, Deputy County Executive Officer Bekki Riggan, Chief Building Official Timothy Wegner, and Children's System of Care Public Educator Christina Ivazes.

Placer County Growers Association Board Director Casey Brown is also part of the workgroup, as well as Kimberly Cargile, director of a Sacramento-based dispensary called A Therapeutic Alternative.

According to a memo from the Aug. 15 board meeting, all of the group's participants agree that the county's current "personal cultivation only" ordinance doesn't do enough to ensure safe access to medical cannabis for all patients and agree that medical dispensaries are necessary, but they're divided on the issue of delivery services.

"We're going very slowly, taking measured steps," Holmes said. "If the board takes any action to change our policy, it'll still be very strict."

Amanda Rhoades is a news, environment and business reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at arhoades@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2653. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @akrhoades.