Local Jurisdictions Struggle to Find Ways to Regulate Medical Marijuana

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PLACER COUNTY --Although California's state legislature passed the most comprehensive medical marijuana laws in the nation in October, regulating everything from seed to sale, local jurisdictions have continued to struggle to find fitting ways to regulate the product.

Included in the bills was autonomy for counties and cities to define certain ways they regulate medical marijuana, from limits on its growth to production and sale.

For the past few months Placer County's supervisors have been going from city to city, hearing people's input on pot. They have visited more than 20 municipalities thus far.

"If there's a consensus at this point from what we've gotten from the community, it's that some kind of regulation is important,” said Placer County Supervisor Robert Weygandt.

But what regulation? That’s what they're trying to figure out. Weygandt says Placer County is considering a number of options including a ban on growers.

"If the board in a majority decided to ban outdoor grows, it's my understanding that would likely be enforceable in court," said Weygandt.

They aren’t the only jurisdiction figuring out its cannabis cans and cannots. In June voters in Nevada County will decide whether to ban outdoor grows. Conversely, in Yuba County, voters will decide whether to overturn a ban on outdoor grows. Sacramento County voters will choose whether marijuana tax money should go to youth programs

No uniformity -- each county decides what regulation looks like.

“If we had a state plan that was applied throughout the state in every city and county, we wouldn't be having these issues,” said Richard Miller, a former medical marijuana grower in Placer County, now an advocate for patients’ rights, and director of the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis.

Miller worries Placer County may be quick to overregulate.

County officials though fear too many grow operations could attract a black market, or violent crime. Aerial photos that the county included in a recent power point presentation showing dozens of grow operations in a condensed area within the county worry officials further.

"The concern of whether Placer County becomes the hub for marijuana grows and who does that bring to the area,” said Roseville Police Chief Daniel Hahn.

One of the voices the county considers -- law enforcement.

"We've seen some of these things go on and we want to make sure that we are prepared for whatever's going to come in our county,” said Hahn.

It could be months before anyone knows what that is for sure. Placer county officials hope to have a better handle on specific policy recommendations for medical marijuana by June 21st. Most jurisdictions are keeping an eye on the November ballot, when recreational pot could become legal statewide.