By Deb Murphy
Marijuana laws pass in state and county, now what …
You hire a consultant to help figure it all out. That’s what the Inyo County Board of Supervisors decided following a presentation by Planning Department staff at Tuesday’s meeting.
Associate Planner Michael Draper came armed with a Power Point illustrating what areas of the county approved California’s Proposition 64 legalizing adult recreational marijuana and Inyo’s advisory measures on either medical or recreational or both marijuana businesses.
Pro was appropriately blue, dominating the county map with splatters of red for the againsts. The easy part of the decision was to proceed, given the voting results on Advisory Measures G, medical businesses, and H, recreational businesses.
Logic says the county would simply fit community input, gathered during a series of neighborhood outreach meetings, into the state model of rules and regulations. But wait, the state doesn’t have those rules and regulations set in stone yet. According to an attorney/consultant who filled in some of the blanks, “much is still unknown; it’s still evolving.”
Hypothetically, California won’t have those rules and regulations, involving multiple agencies, until D-Day, January 1, 2018.
There are a few knowns: If a community wants to prohibit commercial operations it has to expressly exclude those businesses in zoning ordinances, rather than relying on simply not specifically allowing.
Another known: If a county or city has no ordinance excluding those businesses, the State can issue permits and collect excise taxes.
According to Draper, there are a number of ways to skin this cat: establishing zoning overlays where businesses are allowed and setting limits within those overlays, amending the zoning codes, requiring special or conditional use permits on a case by case basis or a combination of all of the above. The Board was advised to “proceed expeditiously.” The Supervisors agreed.
Administrative Officer Kevin Carunchio recommended hiring a consultant to help with the process. “We can do something before the end of this year,” he said. “We can start with a workshop, hold community and neighborhood meetings, start to narrow down concerns.”
He also recommended a registry of potential marijuana businesses to get an idea of the numbers of interested parties. Carunchio has already begun the process of contacting consultants given the fact marijuana regulation consultants have become extremely busy.

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