LOS ANGELES – County supervisors on Tuesday signaled their intent to crack down on marijuana dispensaries and at least temporarily ban growing cannabis in unincorporated areas, but turned back a proposed ban on mobile sales and delivery.
Supervisor Michael Antonovich recommended that the county study the impacts of medical marijuana cultivation, manufacture, testing and distribution in the unincorporated areas in light of recent passage of state legislation setting up a regulatory framework.
The board on Tuesday unanimously directed county lawyers to draft an ordinance that would prohibit all cultivation, manufacturing, laboratory testing and distribution in unincorporated areas of the county for at least 45 days, while the study is underway.
Antonovich warned of dangers associated with growing cannabis, saying in his motion that it “increases the risk of trespassing and burglary and acts of violence.”
One man told the board that growing marijuana plants in his backyard was the only way he could provide relief to his dying father, diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer.
“Ban or no ban, I would have done everything in my power to bring my father the relief that he needed,” the man said.
Antonovich also proposed a prohibition on mobile sales and commercial delivery of medical marijuana.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said she was concerned about “those who do have a prescription and can’t leave their homes.”
Ultimately, the ban on mobile sales failed to garner enough support and Antonovich withdrew that part of his proposal.
Supervisor Don Knabe took the opportunity to call for a crackdown on illegal dispensaries.
“I’ve got a ton of them in my district,” Knabe said. “They’re not legal.”
Knabe said he had no issue with the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but those aren’t the customers he sees gathered outside of dispensaries. Instead, he finds a “whole bunch of smiling, happy, young folks.”
A man who once owned a dispensary in Knabe’s district said he shut down his store to comply with the county ordinance, only to see another operator open a shop at the same location.
“Why do you have 75 marijuana dispensaries when there’s a ban on dispensaries? And when do I get mine?” the man asked.
The county’s lead attorney, Mary Wickham, said her department would report back in two weeks on enforcement of the existing ban.
All use of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.