More Orange County Cities Race to Ban Medical Marijuana

According to a recent news feature from the Orange County Register, cities throughout Orange County, California are “scrambling” to ban medical cannabis cultivation or distribution and delivery in their respective jurisdictions. For the most part, these were already places that did not permit medical marijuana dispensaries or grow operations, but now that the state has required an overt ban and a fast approaching deadline, these jurisdictions are going out of their way to fight against medical marijuana.

dutch-weed-2-jpg-1206038-m.jpgThe deadline set by the state for these cities in Orange County and across the state to ban medical marijuana in their communities is March 1, 2016. The proposed bans will include cultivation of medical marijuana, brick and mortar dispensaries, and mobile delivery services. Much like so-called dry counties that exist in some parts of the nation that do not allow for the sale of alcohol by the drink or in stores, it does not mean that it is illegal for private citizens to purchase the banned substance elsewhere and bring it home.

With the state law allowing for the possession and use of medical marijuana as long as the person is a state resident with a valid doctor’s prescription, the local municipalities can only ban the sale aspect of medical marijuana. It should be noted that any unincorporated county government or city that fails to enact a medical marijuana ban by the March deadline will be deemed to have ceded control of medical marijuana regulation to the state, and that will, in effect, make it legal to grow, sell, and dispense medical marijuana locally.

However, it should also be noted that under the new state law, anyone cultivating medical marijuana will be required to adhere to the same very strict water control laws to which all farmers must adhere in order to protect California’s already insufficient water supply. Another point to keep in mind, and one that should be discussed with your Orange County medical marijuana lawyer, is that even if it is legal to cultivate medical marijuana in your city or county, it is still necessary to comply with all zoning laws and commercial business regulations. For example, in order to open a cannabis cultivation center, the area must be zoned for agriculture. In order to open a cannabis dispensary, the area must be zoned for commercial business or at the very least, mixed use residential. Regardless of the local medical marijuana regulations, a business can still be shut down by the local government if it is determined that business in violation of the zoning equations, or a nuisance to surrounding property owners. Some areas, like Santa Ana, are taking a more regional approach and have allowed for some dispensaries to operate, unlike most locations, which are going for a complete ban.

With regulations changing as fast as they do, it is often difficult to stay on top of things. For this reason, it is best to speak with an experienced medical cannabis attorney before taking any action. Another thing that may complicate things is that there are likely going to be enough signatures to get legalization of marijuana for recreational use on the ballot for the next initiative. If this was to pass, and many think it will, there will be more changes to come.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

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Cannabis Less Dangerous Than Heroin, New DEA Chief Concedes, Aug. 2, 2015, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog