CA: County Takes Cautious Approach To Cannabis Policies

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The passage of Proposition 64 was welcome news to California cannabis investors and growers looking to expand from the medical marijuana industry.

Some are eyeing the Coastside, with its millions of square feet of greenhouse space, a moist and temperate climate, and a declining cut flower industry in need of revitalization. Add to that the fact that a pound of cannabis can sell for nearly 2,000 times the price of a pound of Brussels sprouts, and it would seem that the Coastside is primed for a cannabis green rush.

But local officials are in no hurry. A county-appointed work group will present its findings on the impact of both new medical marijuana regulations and legalized recreational cannabis to the Board of Supervisors in December, after postponing the meeting in November. After that, the county will begin crafting policies and ordinances to regulate recreational and medical cannabis – a process it would rather get right than rush.

Meanwhile, Half Moon Bay City Council discussed what the passage of Proposition 64 could mean here at its meeting on Tuesday night. The discussion occurred after Review deadlines, but the council was not expected to act on any specific regulations on Tuesday.

Some Northern California counties have already issued regulations on cultivating medical marijuana, but San Mateo County’s slower approach is considered, according to County Agricultural Commissioner Fred Crowder.

“Sonoma, Shasta, Santa Cruz, San Jose – they’re all backtracking respective to Proposition 64,” Crowder said. “Those counties that have been ahead of the curve on this have a lot of extra work,” he said. “I appreciate their diligence to get through it, but I also appreciate San Mateo County’s interest to not have to go back and make changes. We don’t want to end up going back and revising.”

In order to develop a deliberate cannabis policy, the county is first focusing on how its legalization will affect aspects of its economy and government. Representatives from the county Health Department, Sheriff’s Office, Planning Department, county counsel, and Agriculture Department have met three times thus far to explore the new laws’ impacts on their jurisdictions. At the Board of Supervisors’ Dec. 6 meetings, each of those departments will inform the board on how the new laws will affect them.

The county is also waiting for the state to release information on how it plans to regulate recreational cannabis use. Right now, there’s some confusion over whether the state or local jurisdictions are responsible for enforcing the law, said County Assistant Manager Mike Callagy. Callagy said he hopes that cannabis will be regulated the same way that alcoholic beverages are, with the state government responsible for enforcement and regulation.

“Where does the state’s role end and local counties’ begin?” said Callagy. “It would be great if they regulate completely and our role becomes that of what it is now for local bars and liquor stores.”

And even though the state has until Jan. 1, 2018, to begin issuing licenses to sell recreational cannabis, Callagy said the process of implementing Proposition 64 will be more complicated than it is to implement medical marijuana laws.

“It’s going to be much more widespread, and you’ve got large manufacturing, cultivation and sales,” said Callagy. “It’s going to be much more cumbersome, potentially, and really needing good policies.”

Although the county is nowhere close to issuing regulations for recreational marijuana, at least one member of the Board of Supervisors has expressed his personal thoughts on how the county should license the new commodity.

“Personally, I do not want marijuana grown in the open fields. If it’s going to be grown any place on the Coastside, I want it grown in greenhouses,” said District 3 Supervisor Don Horsley at a Midcoast Community Council meeting this month. “On the other hand, I don’t want a proliferation of greenhouses, either.”

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: County Takes Cautious Approach To Cannabis Policies
Author: Kaitlyn Bartley
Contact: 650-726-4424
Photo Credit: Reuters
Website: Half Moon Bay Review