Sacramento County Weighing Measure to Officially Ban Pot Dispensaries, Protests Expected

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Sacramento County supervisors will consider an outright ban on medical marijuana dispensaries this afternoon, a move that would effectively knock out the staggering, stumbling MMJ industry in unincorporated areas of the region.

According to Americans for Safe Access, the county board reportedly slipped in a last-minute agenda item asking supervisors to discuss an ordinance that clarifies zoning rules. The measure would reaffirm the county’s stance that local zoning codes prohibit uses that violate federal laws, which would effectively ban medical pot operations.

ASA is protesting the ordinance, asking members to email county representatives and supervisors, sign an online petition against the measure, spread the word on Facebook and Twitter, participate in rallies, and speak out at the meeting. The supervisors will meet at 2:15 p.m. at 700 H Street, Suite 1450.

“We must urge the County Board of Supervisors not to ban but rather draft a sensible policy that insures safe and affordable access to medicine for patients,” ASA said in an email to members.

Sherri Bilodeau, a local MMJ patient and activist, implored the board to seriously consider the effects of a ban on ill and elderly residents before making a decision.

“The U.S. Census states that there are approximately 16,000 elders in Sacramento County,” Bilodeau wrote in a letter to supervisors, which she provided to Medical Marijuana Business Daily. “How can anyone on the board sleep at night knowing they are contributing to the illness and abuse of elderly and sick citizens with their inaction? Please stop the abuse of the elderly in Sacramento.”

The county has launched a full-scale crackdown in recent weeks, leading to the closure of all but eight dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the region – down from 99 MMCs earlier this fall.  As part of these moves, county officials halted the permit process for new medical pot centers, filed lawsuits and issued steep fines for zoning violations, pressuring dispensaries to shut down.

Roughly two dozen dispensaries are still operating in the city of Sacramento, which hasn’t been as aggressive as the county. But the writing may be on the wall for MMJ there as well, especially if the county adopts the zoning ordinance.