Under a new county law in the works, it would be illegal for specially licensed medical marijuana retailers to deliver cookies or brownies to Marin homes unless they contain cannabis.
On Tuesday, the Marin County Board of Supervisors had a first reading of an ordinance that would allow up to four medical cannabis retailers, making deliveries only, to locate in unincorporated Marin.
The ordinance expressly prohibits licensees from selling food, such as snacks and drinks, unless the snacks and drinks are infused with cannabis.[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section” curated_ids=””]“Edibles are defined separately,” said county planner Inge Lundegaard. “So edibles would be an allowed cannabis product.”
Earlier in the meeting when Lundegaard was outlining the rules of the new license, several potential applicants misunderstood and objected to what they thought was a county ban on delivering edibles.
Alex Boggio, who operates the Delta 11 medical cannabis delivery service out of a space adjacent to the Civic Center at 70 San Pablo Ave., said, “Edibles are about 25 percent of the current market.”
Under the new law, cannabis delivery services based in Marin, such Boggio’s, will need a county license to deliver medical cannabis to homes and businesses in Marin. Once the misunderstanding over edibles was cleared up, most of the public comment at Tuesday’s hearing was positive.
“I want to thank the subcommittee for all the work you’ve done on this ordinance,” said Nick Caston. “It has really improved substantially.”
George Bianchini, founder and CEO of Medi-Cone, a Marin-based collective that grows and sells medical cannabis, said, “I’m in complete support of the proposal that is going forward now.”
This is Marin County’s second go-round with a medical cannabis dispensary ordinance.
In May 2016, county supervisors adopted an ordinance that would have permitted up to four medical cannabis dispensaries to open in unincorporated Marin. County staff and a volunteer advisory committee oversaw three public meetings earlier this year, during which 10 applicants made their pitches. The county nixed the idea, however, after people who lived close by locations where the dispensaries were proposing to open turned out in large numbers to object.
Although no one spoke in opposition to the ordinance on Tuesday, critics sent letters to the board.
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Amos Klausner, who helped rally neighbors against proposals for dispensaries proposed in West Marin, wrote, “Safety, even with a delivery only ‘warehouse,’ continues to be an important issue.”
Klausner cited a New York Times story which said that in 2015 violent crime in Mendocino County was seven times higher than in Los Angeles County.
Lane Arye of Woodacre wrote, “Many people in our valley are still concerned about the possibility of a cannabis service in our valley attracting violent crime. This is especially dangerous because so few sheriff’s deputies patrol our streets.”
The ordinance prohibits retailers from locating within 600 feet of a school, day care center, youth center or playground. The ordinance requires customers between the ages of 18 and 21 to have a medicinal cannabis patient ID card. It limits deliveries to customers’ residences or businesses. It limits operating hours to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. And it prohibits advertising on site or on delivery vehicles.
Klausner wrote, “I had hoped that the county would increase setbacks from 600 feet to at least 1,000 feet or more.”
The county has said the buffer was set at 600 feet to comply with the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act passed by the California Legislature in June.
Since the supervisors held a forum on the ordinance on Oct. 13, one significant change has been made in the process for deciding who gets one of the four licenses. Previously, the county was going to pare down the number of applicants with a lottery, following a cursory prescreening.
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Now, however, the ordinance calls for a detailed applicant review prior to the lottery. If more than four of the applicants score 80 percent or higher in this 100-point review process, then a lottery will be used to decide who moves to the next phase, which is site selection.
Nevertheless, several potential applicants objected Tuesday to the use of a lottery.
“A lottery system may not result in the best project for the community,” Caston said.
County Administrator Matthew Hymel said, “One of the challenges that we had is that we may have more responsible vendors than we have sites.”
Hymel said other communities have had trouble implementing similar ordinances because applicants have filed appeals challenging scoring methodology. A final reading of the ordinance and a merit hearing is scheduled for Nov. 14.
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