County Supervisors to consider changes to marijuana regulations

RIVERSIDE  – Riverside County supervisors next week will review their options in regulating the cultivation and sale of marijuana in unincorporated communities, which became legal on Jan. 1 under Proposition 64.
The Board of Supervisors has set aside an afternoon session Tuesday, beginning at 1:30 p.m., to hear from the Office of County Counsel on what may be the best way to proceed now that the Adult Use of Marijuana Act is the law
in California.
In December, county attorneys submitted a report detailing what changes were on the horizon as a result of the voter-approved measure, but the board decided not to take action at that time. County Counsel Greg Priamos advised waiting until March to see how other jurisdictions were grappling with the “impacts” of Prop 64.
The law, approved in November, makes it legal for individuals 21 and over to use marijuana recreationally, whereas before it was largely confined to people who had medical marijuana needs.
According to the Office of County Counsel’s report, most of the county’s existing regulations prohibiting the cultivation and use of marijuana were not automatically undone by Prop 64.
County Ordinance No. 928 does not permit mobile or stationary marijuana dispensaries to operate in unincorporated areas, and Ordinance No. 925 permits medical marijuana patients and their caregivers to cultivate up to 24 cannabis plants on private property, though all cultivation is prohibited within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and daycare centers. Growers are also required to have their pot plants hidden from view, in secure locations.
Local prohibitions against general recreational use are no longer valid as a result of Prop 64, which allows personal marijuana grows limited to six plants per individual. County attorneys have emphasized that the board does not
have to nullify prohibitions against commercial cannabis cultivation and distribution.
However, the Office of County Counsel pointed out that Prop 64 establishes a $9.25-per-ounce cultivation tax on cannabis flowers and a $2.75-per-ounce levy on leaves — revenue that could go into county coffers. Any proposed tax must first be ratified by local voters.
In December, representatives from the Southern California Responsible Growers Council, a pro-cannabis farming group, urged the board to consider dropping its anti-cultivation stance, highlighting the potential economic benefits, including jobs and sales tax revenue growth.
The county is facing a potential budget deficit in the next fiscal year of $100 million.
Coachella, Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs and Cathedral City currently permit medical marijuana-related sales. In anticipation of the passage of Prop 64, voters in Cathedral and Coachella last November approved general
marijuana activities taxes, along with Perris and San Jacinto, according to the Office of County Counsel.
The following area cities currently ban marijuana cultivation and sales of any kind: Banning, Calimesa, Corona, Hemet, Indian Wells, Indio, Menifee, Moreno Valley, Palm Desert, Riverside and Wildomar.
California led the way in cultivation and use of medical marijuana with the passage of Proposition 215 — the California Compassionate Use Act — in 1996. Localities can regulate the conditions under which grows are established and the responsibilities of the parties involved, according to statutes passed by the Legislature and signed into law in 2004 and 2010.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration still views marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic prohibited under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
In an interview earlier this week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Justice Department will continue to enforce federal law regarding marijuana use, vowing to make arrests and prosecute lawbreakers, even in states
where recreational cannabis use has been legalized.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.