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California County Not Sure About Recreational Marijuana but Welcomes Hemp

Recreational Marijuana is Coming to California and Unless a County Takes Action to Ban it, California will Issue Licenses

Ventura County of California is banning recreational marijuana for now until they can get a better feel for the market and its impacts. The California country welcomes hemp though and has inquired about getting whatever it needs to grow the not too distant cousin of marijuana. There is a lot of potential in hemp as a meaningful commodity for textile production and hopefully the rest of the United States welcomes hemp too eventually.

Ventura County supervisors are being asked Tuesday to start the process for banning businesses that sell or produce marijuana for recreational use, but also order an analysis of the potential for growing hemp.

Supervisors Linda Parks and John Zaragoza called for the ban in the unincorporated territory before the state starts licensing commercial marijuana businesses in January. The licenses are allowed under Proposition 64, which in November legalized recreational use of marijuana for adults age 21 and over.

If jurisdictions do not have ordinances in place banning the businesses, the state can issue licenses without their permission, county Resource Management Director Chris Stephens said Friday.

The supervisors oversee the unincorporated territory outside the 10 local cities. That includes farmland, open space and small communities such as Somis, Oak View and Oak Park.

Zaragoza portrayed the step as a placeholder.

“Come Jan. 1, we are going to be at the mercy of the state if we do not act on marijuana,” he said. “We are not banning it per se. We just want some time to look at it, to regulate it.”

The state allows medical marijuana businesses, but they have not taken hold anywhere in the county. Six months ago, supervisors stalled over a proposal for regulating medical marijuana businesses, giving staff no direction on how to proceed.

At the time, Parks raised concerns about the size of the businesses and community opposition.

She said Thursday that an ordinance — which is a law — would preserve the ability of communities to weigh in on business operations for recreational use.

“I know some communities are accepting of it, and some are not,” she said. “It gives local jurisdictions a say instead of having the state make the determination.”

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