The eight remaining medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas of Sacramento County will have to close up shop under a controversial zoning code change.
All but one supervisor voted in favor of tweaking zoning codes to expressly prohibit any “land use activity or establishment” that violates state or federal laws in unincorporated areas of the county. County officials brushed aside passionate pleas from patients, dispensary owners and marijuana advocates who spoke ahead of the vote about the importance of medical pot.
The change doesn’t specifically target medical marijuana operations. But make no mistake: Banning dispensaries was the impetus behind the move, as the county has launched an aggressive crackdown on the MMJ industry.
In the past few months, the number of cannabis centers in unincorporated areas of the county has plummeted from roughly 100 to just eight amid pressure from local officials.
The zoning code change will effectively drive a stake in the heart of the pot industry in unincorporated Sacramento County. Dispensaries are still allowed in the city of Sacramento, though officials there have been cracking down as well.
Those opposed to the zoning change argued that banning dispensaries is unconstitutional and will end up hurting the elderly and seriously ill residents. Opponents of medical pot, however, spoke up at the board meeting as well, with one resident saying she is “opposed to the smell, the traffic and the potential dangers” that medical marijuana shops pose in the community.
The use and distribution of medical marijuana is legal under California law. But many communities in the state have passed dispensary bans and moratoriums on new pot shops in recent weeks, citing federal efforts to crack down on the marijuana industry.