The Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to continue its ban on growing nonmedical marijuana in unincorporated areas for another two years.
The ban is aimed at commercial growers. It’s still legal to grow up to six plants at a private residence under Proposition 64, as long as it’s indoors.
Approved by voters statewide in November, Proposition 64 decriminalizes marijuana by allowing adults 21 and older to use, transport and buy it in limited amounts.
But the proposition allows local jurisdictions to impose their own regulations, including a ban on marijuana businesses, which the board adopted as a temporary measure in December and now has extended until December 2018.
Never miss a local story.
At a public hearing Tuesday, people who grow marijuana or want to urged supervisors to not extend the ban.
“This isn’t the fringe of agriculture, this is the future of agriculture,” said Wes Hardin, director of operations at CannaCanHelp Inc. a grower of medical marijuana in a warehouse in Goshen. The company said it had $5.6 million in sales last year.
You have made millionaires out of people who have no license to do the business that they’re conducting because you’re not addressing the issues.
Ken Brock, attorney
The county is missing out, Hardin said.
“Counties all around us are going to start flourishing,” Hardin said. “We’re going to be the dead spot in the middle.”
Rachael Carrillo said her family owns a palm tree business, and wants to grow marijuana as a source of revenue in winter when sales are slow, but the county is making that impossible.
“I want to do everything legal,” she said. “I will have security guards and electrical fences. ... This is my livelihood ... the sooner we get on this it’s going to benefit everyone in the community. All that money will go to school and for taxes.”
Lawyer Ken Brock called the county’s ban “a stop-gap measure” that benefits only those who ignore the county’s ban and grow marijuana anyway.
“What you really did is you created small monopolies,” he said. “You said, ‘Status quo is let whoever is doing this right now continue to do it,’ and they’re continuing to do it and it’s incredibly lucrative. You have made millionaires out of people who have no license to do the business that they’re conducting because you’re not addressing the issues.”
There’s nothing wrong with our county sitting back and seeing what happens around us.
Steve Worthley, Tulare County supervisor
Supervisors said the issue still needs more study despite the passage of Proposition 64.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law and “it’s very uncertain what the law will be looking like in the near future” as the Trump presidency takes hold, board chairman Pete Vander Poel of Tulare said.
Supervisor Steve Worthley of Dinuba called the responses to Proposition 64 by local governments “beta testing.”
“There’s nothing wrong with our county sitting back and seeing what happens around us,” Worthley said. “We’re taking a position that is prudent and I think responsible.”
Supervisor Mike Ennis of Porterville said marijuana growing is still a public safety issue. He noted that 55 percent of Tulare County voters voted no on Proposition 64.
Growing nonmedical marijuana also is banned in Fresno and Kings counties, although up to six plants can be grown indoors at a private home.
But Coalinga allows it. In Coalinga, voters approved an initiative in November to allow one medical marijuana dispensary within city limits, and the city council will discuss the specifics Thursday.
County staff said they would study how other counties deal with Proposition 64.
Sueprivsor Amy Shuklian of Visalia said the board can always adjust the rules before the two years are up.