Since January of this year, Sonoma County Administration has been working on development of local policies relating to medical cannabis for the County. Local policies/ordinances are necessary and must be developed so that local permits can be made available to medical cannabis operators who are planning to obtain state licenses for commercial medical cannabis activities once they are available in 2018. The County has stated that they plan to have a draft ordinance for presentation to the Planning Commission by October and they hope to have the final ordinance adopted by the Board of Supervisors by the end of December of this year.
Medical Cannabis Regulations – Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act
Under the state regulations for medical cannabis (known as MMRSA), beginning January 2018, an operator must have both a local permit and a state license to operate a commercial medical cannabis business. In preparation for the 2018 California state licensing process, now is the time for operators to ensure their medical cannabis business is being conducted in compliance with local regulations, and to obtain local medical cannabis permits where available. Medical Cannabis Collective models are still allowed to operate, but they must transition into permitted and licensed facilities once state licenses are available. Many cities and counties throughout California are in the process of developing comprehensive ordinances for commercial medical cannabis so they can provide local permits before the state licenses are available.
Local Sonoma County Medical Cannabis Policies
As part of Sonoma County’s work to develop the much needed local policies, the Board of Supervisors formed an Ad Hoc Committee, which is made up of Supervisors Efren Carrillo and Susan Gorin. This committee has been working with five technical advisory committees which include county representatives in various areas, including Ag & Environment, Code Enforcement, Health & Human Services, Jobs & Economics, and Tax & Revenue. These task force groups have been meeting weekly to obtain information relevant to their group. Each group has formulated a list of questions for the public to provide feedback for their group, and a representative of each group will be available to the public at the upcoming town hall meetings scheduled throughout Sonoma County.
The Board of Supervisors has scheduled five town hall meetings throughout Sonoma County, one for each district, which are hosted by the supervisor for each district. Also attending each of the meetings are many county representatives, including a representative from each of the five task force groups.
Sonoma County Medical Cannabis Town Hall Meetings
Medical Cannabis Town Hall meetings have already taken place in Sonoma and Petaluma on July 25th and July 27th. Three more meetings are scheduled for the coming weeks. Interested parties are highly encouraged to attend these meetings to provide feedback to each of the task groups. The three remaining meetings are scheduled as follows:
- District 5 Town Hall Meeting will be hosted by Supervisor Efren Carrillo and will be held on Wednesday, July 27th, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the Sebastopol Grange, 6000 Sebastopol Avenue in Sebastopol.
- District 3 Town Hall Meeting will be hosted by Supervisor Shirlee Zane and the City of Santa Rosa and will be held on Thursday, July 28th from 5:30 pm to 7:30 p.m. at the Glacer Center, 547 Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa.
- District 4 Town Hall Meeting will be hosted by Supervisor James Gore on Tuesday, August 2nd, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa.
The County of Sonoma has a website dedicated to local cannabis policies/ordinances. Individuals can sign up for updates as well as obtain a copy of the Marijuana Town Hall Meeting Presentation here .
Individuals are also encouraged to visit this site to participate in the county’s survey and/or to send the county e-mails with their feedback.