Southern California

Riverside County supervisors approve effort to regulate marijuana

Riverside County supervisors told staff members Tuesday, Aug. 29, to begin crafting rules that would allow marijuana dispensaries and pot-related businesses to operate in the county’s unincorporated areas.

The 3-0 vote – Supervisor Marion Ashley abstained and Supervisor John Tavaglione was absent – doesn’t immediately legalize dispensaries in areas of the county that aren’t part of a city. Specific rules governing where cannabis commerce can go and how those businesses operate will be developed in the coming months with public input.

Also in the works is a local marijuana tax measure planned for the November 2018 ballot. If it fails, then efforts to legalize and regulate pot businesses will end, so the ballot measure is essentially the public’s chance to approve or reject marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas.

Supervisors Kevin Jeffries and Chuck Washington proposed creating rules for pot enterprises in response to November’s passage of Prop. 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in California.

Jeffries said Tuesday that while he voted against Prop. 64 and is not a pot enthusiast, local governments have no choice but to enact marijuana regulations to protect the public.

With the proliferation of illegal marijuana grows in the county, Washington said: “It appears to be a battle that we are not winning.”

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Any regulations, Jeffries said, would be created with the goal of keeping dispensaries and the like away from schools, parks and residential neighborhoods. The idea, he added, is to prevent communities from becoming inundated with too many marijuana establishments.

Four people spoke in favor of regulations for marijuana businesses, saying a well-regulated industry could be a boon for the county’s coffers and economy.

Ashley said he had mixed emotions about regulating recreational marijuana, which he sees as wrong.

“(But) if we don’t do anything about it, I think it’s going to be worse,” he said.