Dozens of medical-marijuana patients and advocates packed the county boardroom Tuesday to give supervisors an earful about a proposed ordinance that would tighten regulations around marijuana deliveries and cultivation. They worried the legal status quo — which prohibits dispensaries but says nothing about deliveries and cultivation — would be changed to make access harder for patients, especially those with debilitating conditions like HIV and Crohn’s disease who can’t grow their own crops. Though county staff recommended that the supervisors ban deliveries, the board unanimously agreed to allow them, as well as existing grow operations that conform to state law. To do otherwise would be “cruel and inhumane,” said 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr.
The vote was prompted by a package of bills signed by Governor Jerry Brown in October that would make the state the sole authority over medical-marijuana cultivation if local jurisdictions don’t adopt their own set of rules by March 1. With that deadline looming, California cities and counties have been scrambling to pass laws to retain local control, with an eye on fine-tuning their language once the regulatory dust settles. But many elected officials, including Santa Barbara’s, fully expect Sacramento to run roughshod over whatever framework they come up with. “I think the state is going to act very soon,” said Farr, “and not only move the deadline but possibly nullify the actions of local jurisdictions.” Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam agreed: “I resent the fact that we’ve been shoved into this position.”
In their presentation to the board, county staff noted that, so far, the cities of Buellton, Carpinteria, Goleta, Guadalupe, Lompoc, Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura have all banned dispensaries, deliveries, and commercial cultivation. The City of Santa Barbara has permitted three dispensaries and has left deliveries unregulated; Solvang is also not regulating deliveries. The County of San Luis Obispo allows dispensaries and deliveries and is in the process of figuring out its commercial cultivation rules. Not lost on the supervisors and many others in the boardroom Tuesday was the quagmire of federal, state, and local laws that still surround medical marijuana, and the confusion it creates. “I’m having trouble reconciling this paradox we’re in,” said 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal.