Marijuana has a future in Lassen County

Much to the consternation of those who opposed Measure M, the county’s November 2018 Cannabis Business Tax measure narrowly approved by the voters 4,691 (52.86 percent) to 4,183 (47.14 percent), the Lassen County Board of Supervisors took the first step regarding medical and commercial marijuana cultivation, processing and distribution to our corner of Northeastern California recently..

Measure M did not contemplate cultivation, processing and distribution per se — according to the Voters Guide, Measure M “if adopted, would establish a structure for taxing commercial cannabis activities, recreational or medical, in the County of Lassen if those activities are ever authorized to occur.”

Measure M opponents argued a yes vote on the measure was more that just approving a potential tax structure because, according to the Voter’s Guide, a yes vote “is a vote telling your county leaders that you support the production of commercial cannabis in Lassen County.” Apparently their intuition and worst fears have come to pass.

Last week the board asked Maury Anderson, the county’s director of building and planning services, to begin to consider the elements of a possible ordinance framing the county’s zoning issues regarding commercial cannabis — both medical and recreational — and report back to the board. At this point the board is not yet investigating the cultivation issue, and this “first bite” relates to dispensaries. This could be the easiest first step for the county because such activities could be regulated by simply revising existing county ordinances. Anderson is exploring where dispensaries might be located and what zones and restrictions would be appropriate for such activity.

So far, staff has recommended those activities should be limited to commercial and/or industrial zones, but it remains to be seen exactly what recommendation will come from the planning and building department.

Possibilities include a retail storefront or two that operates both as a dispensary and a delivery service. A recommendation regarding the zoning of a possible quality control testing facility may also come from the planning and building department and perhaps a recommendation regarding a manufacturing facility as well.

In addition to revising the county’s zoning ordinances, some of these activities also will require permission from the county and then a license from the state. The county may have to come up with a business license or permit in order to move this forward. The county does not currently require a business license for businesses in its jurisdiction.

Before the county could take any action, it’s expected it would need to approve revisions to its Title 19 ordinance and create a new Title 18 zoning ordinance.

Some board followers believe this is already a done deal, and they expect a 4-1 approval of any new regulations. If you have an opinion on these issues, contact your supervisor at 251-8333 or attend an upcoming board meeting (9 a.m. Tuesday, March 19 or 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 26) and let your voice be heard.

The county’s action has no effect in the city of Susanville, which makes its own decision regarding cannabis.