Pubdate: Wed, 17 Aug 2016
Source: Porterville Recorder (CA)
Copyright: 2016 Freedom Communications Inc.


No One Speaks Against Extension

Surprisingly, not one person spoke Tuesday for or against an 
ordinance which will extend the ban on new medical marijuana 
collectives or cooperatives in Tulare County.

Following a detailed staff report into why the county wants to extend 
its interim ordinance prohibiting the establishment of new or 
expansion of existing medical marijuana entities in the county, 
supervisors passed the extension on a 5-0 vote after no one spoke 
during the public comment portion of the hearing.

Supervisors were given many reasons why the development of the 
medical or nonmedical marijuana business in Tulare County is 
unwanted. Among those reasons are crime, use of water, illegal use of 
pesticides and more.

The county first passed an ordinance in 2013 placing a stop on any 
new businesses related to marijuana, medical or otherwise. That was 
extended in 2015 and now appears to be extended at least until 
November when a statewide ballot measure could change the political 
landscape again. Voters will be asked to legalize marijuana in the 
November ballot.

The staff report notes several legislative and regulatory changes to 
marijuana laws, but noted local jurisdictions still have control and 
can impose their only ordinances. The county ordinance only pertains 
to those businesses in the rural areas. Every city has taken its own 
approach, with the city of Porterville allowing medical marijuana 
users up to 12 plants a year, but the city has not allowed dispensaries.

The county has only one dispensary and that is in Goshen and has been 
operating since before 2013. The pending ballot measures which will 
ask statewide voters to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

During the staff report, Tulare County Sheriff's Det. Tim Johnson 
said the sheriff's department continues to see a steady increase in 
the number of illegal marijuana grow sites, both on the Valley floor 
and in the mountains. He also said they have busted five honey oil 
(hash) labs in the county, citing the danger those operations pose.

County code enforcement officer Michael Grove said they have seen an 
increase in people inquiring about growing marijuana in the county, 
including a couple of investors looking at ag land to grow marijuana 
should it become legal. He stressed the county has no land zoned to 
allow the growing of marijuana.

"Increased activity (of marijuana) could lead to an increased threat 
to the public's safety," said Ben Ruiz, interim director of the 
county Resource Management Agency.

Supervisor Pete Vander Poel of Tulare was the only board member to 
comment. "This report documents why we need this ordinance in Tulare 
County," he said.

The ordinance approved Tuesday will expire on Sept. 30, but can be 
extended another 22 months by the board.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom