Businesses that sell or produce marijuana for recreational use won’t be allowed in unincorporated areas of Ventura County under the process started by a county board Tuesday. But the panel could give medical marijuana enterprises another chance.
Voting 5-0, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors supported a ban on recreational marijuana enterprises to preserve local control when the state potentially starts licensing the businesses in January.
“We’re up against a deadline,” said Supervisor Linda Parks, who joined with Supervisor John Zaragoza to propose that planners draft an ordinance incorporating the ban.[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section” curated_ids=””]The licenses are allowed under Proposition 64, which was passed by voters in November and legalized recreational use of marijuana for adults age 21 and older.
Zaragoza described the move as a placeholder until county officials decide how to regulate businesses allowed under Proposition 64. But Supervisor Steve Bennett said he suspected it would be permanent, given the leanings of the board on the subject.
The same board split over regulation of medical marijuana businesses in March, falling short of the majority needed to give some broad policy direction to managers.
In a 3-2 vote at that meeting, supervisors rejected managers’ recommendations for amending land-use laws to allow a limited number of dispensaries, farms and processing plants for medical marijuana. Bennett and Zaragoza voted to accept the recommendations but could not get a third vote from Supervisors Peter Foy, Kelly Long or Parks.
After being on the losing side in that vote, Bennett and Zaragoza intend to bring the issue back in a few weeks.
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They will ask that permits be issued for one dispensary, one manufacturer/processor and one cultivation operation, Bennett said. Parks also called for a testing facility to be considered, and Bennett did not object.
Supervisors also ordered managers in the county government to investigate the potential for production of hemp, assuming that’s feasible under the law. County Counsel Leroy Smith questioned whether the authority of the federal government would trump the state’s authority to allow agricultural production.
Parks said local growers and clothing manufacturers may embrace the chance to obtain hemp in the county. The commodity uses little water and does not contain psychoactive properties, she said.
Wayne Richman, executive director of the California Hemp Association, said the initiative allows farmers to grow hemp.
“Hemp is a fait accompli in California,” Richman told the board. “How do you want to compete in this marketplace?”
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