Last week, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to ban medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation in the unincorporated areas of California’s second most populated county.
The two dispensaries already licensed to do business and three more in the process of opening would be allowed to operate for five years in order to recoup the investments made in accordance with current regulations. At the end of that time, the businesses will be forced to close. The decision does not affect businesses located within the 18 incorporated cities of the county.
The action of the board went against the wishes of the county planning commission, which recommended allowing medicinal dispensaries and cultivation-only facilities. The planning commission also suggested outdoor cultivation be allowed on county agricultural land beginning in 2018.
During the public comment period of the meeting, those speaking against the ban outnumbered supporters by a margin of two to one. Patients, cultivators, dispensary owners and farmers interested in diversifying their crops with cannabis all asked, to no avail, that the supervisors allow medical cultivators and dispensaries to operate with regulation.
Despite Board Chair Diane Jacob imploring the public to limit their comments to ones the board hadn’t already heard, those speaking in favor of the ban mostly resorted to tired clichés about crime, traffic and kids, who would be prohibited by state law from using the dispensaries in question.
At least two of those speaking against the ban threatened to strip the supervisors of their power to regulate the cannabis industry with a ballot initiative. One proposal would rezone more than one thousand properties in the county to allow recreational and medicinal pot businesses.
County Supervisor Greg Cox, who voted against the prohibitions, seemed to take the threat of a voter revolt to heart.
“My biggest fear is if the ban remains in place against medicinal marijuana, we will see an initiative put on the ballot that will deal with not only medicinal marijuana, but probably recreational marijuana,” Cox said.
The prohibition, which is scheduled to go into effect on April 14, 2017, isn’t likely to be the last word on the matter.