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Marijuana Dispensaries Ordinance Goes to Board of Supervisors Tuesday

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LAKEPORT, Calif. — This week the Board of Supervisors will discuss a proposed ordinance to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.

The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 21, in the board chambers on the first floor of the Lake County Courthouse, 255 N. Forbes St., Lakeport. TV8 will broadcast the meeting live.

At 1:30 p.m. the board will host a public hearing on the proposed ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Lake County Planning Commission last month held a hearing on the proposed ordinance and gave "some pretty clear direction" on changes to make before it went to the Board of Supervisors, according to a recent interview with Community Development Director Rick Coel.

The commission's recommended changes, worked into the updated draft for Tuesday's meeting, including adding back the C2 downtown commercial zoning to the other zoning districts — C3, M1 and M2 — where dispensaries would be allowed to operate, Coel said. That had been previously proposed but removed.

In addition, the commission voted to limit the number of dispensaries allowed in the county to five — down from the previous proposal of nine. Coel said there are currently 11 dispensaries operating in the county's jurisdiction, along with three in the city of Clearlake.

Other requirements in the ordinance include a space of 100 feet from residences, and the commission's addition of a 500 foot buffer from churches, which is the same distance dispensaries must be from parks and youth-oriented facilities, he said.

The updated ordinance also includes guidelines on dealing with edible products, which must carry labeling that includes the manufacturer name, net weight of cannabis in the package, labels warning that such projects are "for medical use only" and to be kept out of the reach of children, with an additional warning that the product has not been tested.

Another request by the commission was that all medical marijuana collectives or cooperatives have members who are part-time or full-time Lake County residents only, Coel said. That's also included in the new draft.

Coel said the commission was very concerned about medical marijuana tourism. "They just don't want to see that," he said. "They don't see it as good for the local economy or the local image."

Coel said Sheriff Frank Rivero has given "solid" comments on the draft, particularly when it comes to ensuring that dispensaries are legitimate.

There is a large conflict between the state and federal government on the matter of dispensaries. Coel said the federal government, concerned about drug trafficking, has been sending letters out to state agencies warning them of the liability involved if they permit or license dispensaries that are fronts for drug operations.

While Coel said he's not suggesting local dispensaries are those kinds of illegal operations, he said that dispensaries statewide "are stepping outside" of Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. That voter-approved law, he said, is silent on dispensaries.

"What I'm advising the commission and the board is we should be cautious," he said.

Such organizations need to be not-for-profit, Coel said, otherwise, if they're allowed to exist, the county can be set up for exposure to liability. "It's to protect the county just as much as it is to protect the patients."

In an interview last month, Rivero said Coel had approached him about the law enforcement aspects of the ordinance, which Rivero said he helped write.

In addition to wanting a mechanism to ensure nonprofit status, Rivero said he added in a requirement for background checks on those who operate the facilities.

He said dispensary operators must be held accountable for tracking the money and the marijuana that go through their operations.

Rivero added, "I expect to remain fully involved in this process."

"It will be interesting to see how the board wants to go with this," said Coel.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: lakeconews.com
Author: Elizabeth Larson
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Lake County News
Website: Marijuana dispensaries ordinance goes to Board of Supervisors Tuesday
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