Back in April, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors decided to enact a temporary ban on cultivation of medical marijuana in unincorporated areas. Until this point, dispensaries had already been banned in unincorporated areas so home growing was the only option left for medical marijuana patients in the area. With the new ban on cultivation, patients have been coming forward to express how unjust this ban is for those who rely on medical marijuana.
Just this week, the Board of Supervisors met again to consider an ordinance that would have left the ban in place for 10 more months, to be revisited in April of 2017. However, luckily for patients it appears that the supervisors might be taking them into account as they decided to only continue the ban for another month, and will revisit the possible ordinance in June.
The reason for the 10 month ban was so that they would have time to allow the Department of Regional Planning to complete a comprehensive zoning study to decide how growing marijuana could impact the community. In the meantime, the effects of the ban have left patients without access to needed medicine, which has, in turn, given the black market a chance to grow once again, now that patients need somewhere close to home to access the plant as driving an hour plus into another city is unreasonable for many who use medical marijuana.
“We have people who have seizures, we have people who have glaucoma, we have those with degenerative bone diseases, chronic pain, and unfortunately they are denied their medications now because of the closure of our cannabis clinics, our dispensaries,” said Greg Hernandez of Lake Los Angeles. “The only thing that this ban has gone ahead and done is reignited the black market right here in the Antelope Valley.”
It appears that this message is sinking in though, as they move towards shortening the ban and hopefully moving towards a middle ground (such as only indoor grows, perhaps?); especially considering California is setting itself up to vote on recreational marijuana this November and it has a very good chance of passing. If that proposition passes, they will be forced to regulate or else face the continued disappointment of dealing with the black market, while also missing out on the many revenue and economy boosting aspects of the legal cannabis industry.
“Cannabis is not going away,” he (Josh Drayton, a former aide to state Senate leader Kevin de León) said. “I would encourage the board to get ahead of this instead of behind.”
We won’t know exactly where the County Board of Supervisors is headed with this decision until either someone comes forward or they vote on it, hopefully making a final decision in June. There is a chance they will continue to extend the ban – but that could be another month, 45 days, six months or the entire 10 – but if recreational marijuana passes in November they will definitely feel the rush and the pressure to come to a decision, so it would likely be in their best interest to make a decision prior to November’s election.