The Board of Supervisors, on a 3-2 vote, Tuesday tentatively agreed to permit marijuana cultivation and sales in unincorporated areas of Riverside County and directed staff to refine a set of regulations that will establish where, when and how cannabis is grown and distributed.
Following a nearly four-hour public hearing, during which more than three dozen people spoke, a board majority reached consensus on issues under scrutiny for the last two years.
Supervisors Marion Ashley and John Tavaglione, both of whom are retiring at the end of December, opposed inaugurating any regulatory scheme, citing personal feelings against open and recreational use of marijuana.
“I believe this is taking our society in the wrong direction,” Ashley said. “I do not want Riverside County to become like Colorado.”
The supervisor pointed to statistics showing triple-digit increases in drugged driving crashes in the Centennial State and a growth in underground criminal enterprises since commercial marijuana cultivation and sales were authorized there six years ago.
“I’m concerned about the impact of this on my children and on your children,” Ashley said. “I’m fine with medical marijuana use, but not this. And by having recreational sales (in unincorporated communities), we’ll be surrounding cities like Menifee, Murrieta, Beaumont and Riverside that are not doing it.”
Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, who has served on the county’s Cannabis Ad Hoc Committee since the beginning of 2017, expressed reluctance to move forward with legalization in the unincorporated areas, but admitted that the tax revenue garnered from cultivation and sales would provide the means to pay for “parks, street lights, community centers” and other facilities in places within his First District that have been neglected.
Estimates on potential county receipts from granting marijuana business permits range from $10 million to $17 million annually. The board approved a $42,000 contract with Brea-based accountancy firm HDL to assess potential first-year income.
Under the regulatory plan, a maximum of 19 marijuana dispensaries and 50 commercial grows may be permitted in 2019. However, all of the commercial enterprises would have to enter into individual development agreements — contracts — with the county before they can open for business. Each agreement will be subject to board approval.
The entities would also have to first procure state permits, as required under the Medicinal & Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation & Safety Act, which mandates that localities have the authority to maintain a blanket ban on all commercial cannabis activity, though personal cultivation of up to 24 plants for recreation and medical purposes, as defined under voter-approved Proposition 64, cannot be outlawed.
To Read The Rest Of This Article By Paul J. Young on NBC 4 Los Angeles
Published: October 24, 2018
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