Sacramento County supervisors said they wanted to make it unambiguous that they won't permit medical marijuana dispensaries.
So board members passed a county zoning amendment that fails to include the words "medical" or "marijuana" or "dispensaries."
Instead, supervisors are seeking to bring an end to the county's once teeming medical marijuana trade by denying business permits to establishments that conflict with "either state or federal law, or both" under a new policy approved Tuesday.
The board's action comes after aggressive code enforcement efforts – and threats of federal prosecution or property seizures – shuttered all but a handful of marijuana stores in the county's unincorporated communities.
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Officials said medical marijuana outlets were never permitted under county zoning laws. But that didn't stop as many as 99 dispensaries from opening in the past two years.
So board Chairwoman Roberta MacGlashan said supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday "to clarify our existing ordinance" because it "didn't address marijuana dispensaries."
Even though the amended zoning code still doesn't, MacGlashan said the supervisors' vote now effectively bans marijuana stores by making it "clear we don't allow any use that is inconsistent with federal law."
The vote came after counsel Michelle Bach and other staffers told supervisors the only local land use they know of that conflicted with federal law is medical marijuana.
Supervisor Phil Serna, the lone dissenting vote, said his colleagues took an unnecessary action given the county's already "robust code enforcement" against dispensaries.
Serna said the vote effectively bans both marijuana stores and cultivation in the county. He protested it "foreclosed the opportunity" to negotiate zoning rules to accommodate seriously ill medical marijuana users.
The vote came after county staff advised supervisors of a state 2nd District Court of Appeal decision in October that said the city of Long Beach could not license dispensaries because of federal marijuana laws and a District Court ruling in November upholding a city of Riverside ban on pot stores.
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