The Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted at its August 16 meeting to adopt its interim zoning ordinance on the cultivation of marijuana and medical marijuana dispensaries. The interim ordinance prohibits the establishment of new or expansion of existing medical marijuana entities, including collectives cooperatives, businesses or other entities engaged in commercial cannabis activity in the unincorporated areas of the county.
The ordinance was a result of the regulatory landscape changing since the passage of Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) in October of 2015. Since that time new interest has emerged in commercial marijuana activities.
There has also been a disconnect between the licensing system between the county and state. Some licenses required a county permit before being granted by the state. Also since the passage of MMRSA, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department has reported an increase in unregulated medical marijuana activity that has presented a threat to public safety.
Local control can have precedence over state regulations on Medical Marijuana. The same will most likely be true if recreational use becomes legal after the November election.
If the proposition legalizing pot passes, the new law will phase out collectives and cooperatives. The new law will allow for-profit cultivation, but each county will ultimately have control over licensing of these businesses.
The county’s existing pot dispensaries will not be effected by the extension of their interim ordinance, which states, “collectives and cooperatives are the only entities permitted to cultivate of distribute medical marijuana in the unincorporated areas of the county in excess of the amount permitted for a single qualified patient or person with an identification card.” In addition, only indoor cultivation is permitted.
The Tulare County Resource Management Agency is responsible for enforcing these regulations.