Placer Supervisors agree to regulate medical marijuana
December 08, 2015
The Placer County Board of Supervisors today approved the development of a comprehensive medical marijuana regulatory framework for the unincorporated areas of the county.
The board’s decision does not specify standards for the regulation of medical marijuana cultivation and distribution, but it does allow county staff to work with the community to begin to define what the regulation should look like.
“What we discussed today was putting in a placeholder legislation in January that would preserve our right of jurisdiction over what happens in Placer with regards to cultivation, land use, location, manufacturing – all of the components that come with medicinal marijuana use,” said District 1 Supervisor Jack Duran. “And provide us the opportunity after January to then really put the meat on the bones in crafting an ordinance that suits our needs for passage later in the year.”
In 1996, the electorate enacted Proposition 215, or The Compassionate Use Act, which allowed patients and primary caregivers to obtain and use medical marijuana, as recommended by a physician.
On Oct. 9, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the California Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act. The MMRSA is a package of three separate bills (Assembly Bills 243 and 266 and Senate Bill 643) that established a comprehensive regulatory framework for the cultivation, production, transportation, testing, sale and taxation of medical marijuana. Among its provisions, the act sets a deadline of March 1, 2016 for local jurisdictions to have land use regulations or ordinances regulating or prohibiting the cultivation of marijuana - or choose not to administer a conditional permit program pursuant to AB 243 - or the state “shall be the sole licensing authority for medical marijuana cultivation applicants.”
To date, Placer County has not enacted any ordinances that regulate it. Since county zoning ordinances prohibit activities that aren’t expressly permitted, this has effectively banned medical marijuana in the county’s unincorporated areas.
County staff advised the board that not regulating or banning medical marijuana will continue the risk of criminal activity and environmental damage. Having a clear, enforceable legal framework around medical marijuana, they advised, reduces the incidence of crime and revenue to criminal gangs and cartels. Regulations are also expected to diminish illegal grows, which often use water and chemicals improperly, degrading the environment through pollution and erosion.
County staff suggested that comprehensive regulation is in the public interest because it legally serves the needs of medical marijuana patients and their caregivers. The state allows for the collection of fees and taxes that could offset the cost of regulation and enforcement.
The board is expected to take up the issue again in January 2016 with an initial ordinance to assert the county’s authority to regulate, and staff will begin developing recommendations for a comprehensive regulatory structure for further board consideration over the next few months.