Local medical marijuana laws can't be changed now, supervisors say

Supervisors, officials reject grand jury’s suggestion to reform local ordinances, saying their hands are tied until state gives direction

bcuddy@thetribunenews.comAugust 16, 2012 

Rebuffing grand jury calls for reform of local medical marijuana laws, the county says it is handcuffed until the state sorts out contradictions between state and federal law regarding cannabis.

“This is an inopportune time” to amend the county ordinance, supervisors wrote in a report they will open to public discussion at their meeting Tuesday.

The civil grand jury said in a June report that the county is not properly regulating mobile marijuana distributors and has effectively halted brick-and-mortar clinics by shooting down the only three applicants over the past five years, in Nipomo, Templeton and Oceano.

The report was titled “Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Medical Marijuana in San Luis Obispo County.”

The grand jury recommended the county create a committee that includes law enforcement, medical professionals and community representatives to “provide authorized patients with safe access to contaminant-free medical marijuana.”

Grand jurors suggested changes in the approach to both brick-and-mortar and mobile dispensaries, and the county response in both cases was largely the same: This is a state issue.

“In the absence of a statewide effort, the potential exists for different and potentially conflicting regulations in various jurisdictions,” the report from the county administrative office says.

The county report alluded to “legal confusion” surrounding medical marijuana laws and noted that the California Supreme Court is reviewing “at least four cases. These rulings may not be issued for at least another year.”

The same reasoning buttressed the county Health Department’s response to the grand jury, which had recommended that the department set standards for edible medical marijuana.

Should the Board of Supervisors adopt the county administration’s recommendations, the response will go to the presiding judge of the Superior Court.

The grand jury had criticized the county for “subjective and inconsistent” regulation. It said the well-being of patients who receive the medication through mobile dispensaries is at risk because nobody can guarantee the safety of the delivered product.

Grand jury recommendations are not binding.

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