Monday, August 22, 2011

2011-08-22 "Solano supervisors ban marijuana shops in unincorporated areas" by Melissa Murphy from "The Vacaville Reporter" newspaper
The Solano County Board of Supervisors is moving forward to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the county.
Supervisors last month denied a request from a dispensary owner to amend zoning codes to allow dispensaries. They asked staff to bring back potential ordinance changes that would, in essence, ban medical marijuana dispensaries.
On Tuesday, supervisors will consider adopting an interim urgency ordinance that imposes a 45-day moratorium on any business or facility that cultivates, sells and distributes medical marijuana in unincorporated Solano County. They will also decide whether to hold a public hearing Oct. 4 to consider an extension of the urgency ordinance.
Staff explained in a report to the board that an increase in the number of cities and counties in the region have adopted ordinances prohibiting such dispensaries, which places increased pressure to locate those facilities in Solano County.
There have been strong signals, according to staff, from the federal government that it will take aggressive action against local agencies that abet the commercial distribution of medical marijuana, because it violates federal marijuana laws.
Still, the county's zoning ordinance says that dispensaries are permissible in the Neighborhood Commercial and Business and Professional Office zoning districts.
Additionally, there is a pending business license application for a facility that may have part of its operation involved in the distribution of medical marijuana.
"Staff does not want to be in a position of having to act on the application until the exact nature of the use is known, nor do we want to act prematurely on the application in light of the board's recent direction to come back with an ordinance banning medical marijuana facilities," the report's authors wrote.
County staff admit that there are challenges in navigating between the state and federal laws and standards.
"Staff believes it is prudent and appropriate to establish a moratorium until the county assesses the best approach to address the board's direction and comply with federal and state law," the report noted.
At the end of the 45-day moratorium, staff will inform the board about the status of the analysis and either recommend ordinance changes or identify areas where further study is needed.
If the board chooses to extend the initial 45-day moratorium, the maximum extension allowed is an added 10 months and 15 days.
The Solano County Board of Supervisors meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the County Government Center, 675 Texas St., Fairfield.

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