Marin New Medicinal Cannabis Draft Ordinance Debuts

New delivery-only retail ordinance to be considered in coming months

2011-10-11_15-35-08_444San Rafael, CA – The public may now review and provide feedback on a new draft ordinance about medicinal cannabis delivery-only retail business regulations for the unincorporated area of Marin County. Following a 30-day feedback period, the ordinance is scheduled to be brought before the Marin County Board of Supervisors on September 26 and for a final hearing on October 10, followed immediately by a license application period if it receives approval.

As it has from the start, the County is eager to receive public feedback and answer questions about the new draft ordinance. A public workshop and Q&A session is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. September 19 in the Marin County Board of Supervisors chamber, Suite 330, 3501 Civic Center Drive, in San Rafael.

The County looked to provide a way for patients in chronic pain to obtain medicinal cannabis products locally in an easy, safe and convenient way. Setting up the licensing model has taken time because of the fast-changing world of cannabis laws and residents’ concerns about cannabis businesses in their neighborhoods. The County’s first attempt to establish a licensing model for medicinal cannabis retailers (dispensaries) in unincorporated Marin was not successful this spring, but Board President Judy Arnold said the County remained committed to working with residents and stakeholders to develop a feasible model.

The Board’s cannabis subcommittee, comprised of Arnold and Supervisor Damon Connolly, worked with Community Development Agency (CDA) staff over the past three months to create a new draft ordinance that addresses recommendations made by the public. The draft is consistent with the state’s revised legislation, the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Saftey Act. A licensed medicinal cannabis delivery-only retailer would have to be closed to the public and conduct sales exclusively by delivery. In addition, they would have to be at least 600 feet from schools, day care centers, youth centers, playgrounds, tobacco stores, and other cannabis retailers to be eligible for a license.

In May, the Board of Supervisors upheld a decision by County Administrator Matthew Hymel and denied appeals to seven prospective applicants who wanted to open medical cannabis retailers (dispensaries) in unincorporated areas. Citing a lack of acceptable matches with prospective vendors and site locations, Hymel had decided not to approve any applications following an extensive review by CDA staff.

One administrative change in the new draft ordinance is that the County Administrator will make recommendations on licenses directly to the Board of Supervisors rather than having the County Administrator make a final decision based on recommendations from a volunteer advisory group.

“I feel confident our Board and staff listened to input from stakeholders and have made appropriate changes to the process,” Arnold said of the new draft ordinance. “We are on the right track to provide patients in need access to medicinal cannabis while addressing neighborhood concerns. Our goal is to be issuing delivery-only licenses by next summer.”

Although cannabis is considered an illegal drug by the federal government, Proposition 215 ensures that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use cannabis for medical purposes upon receiving a recommendation from a physician.

California’s State Bureau of Cannabis Control will implement its licensing program in 2018, and licenses for medicinal cannabis retailers could be issued if local approval has been granted. Medicinal cannabis retailers remain prohibited in unincorporated Marin (the town of Fairfax recently allowed a longstanding retailer [dispensary] to reopen under a prior use permit).

The County medicinal cannabis program does not address the use or sale of adult-use cannabis. California voters passed Proposition 64 in November 2016 that allows for the sale, regulation, taxation, cultivation and transportation of cannabis for adult use. Under an ordinance passed by the Board in February 2017, adult-use cannabis businesses are not permitted anywhere in the unincorporated areas of Marin.

Sign up to receive emailed County updates on CDA’s Cannabis Program webpage.

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