Recreational pot sales in unincorporated Sonoma County could start in November
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors moved closer to allowing recreational cannabis sales in the unincorporated areas Tuesday, amending some of its pot regulations to better align with state law.
Supervisors signed off on a series of amendments to county ordinances about cannabis business taxes and health- related requirements, including a change that’ll allow dispensaries to expand their sales beyond medical uses in the coming months.
Recreational sales among the unincorporated county’s five medical marijuana dispensaries aren’t likely to begin until November, according to Tim Ricard, the county’s cannabis program manager. He said supervisors must first make changes to their cannabis land use regulations, a highly controversial policy debate they’re expected to resume in October.
“Think of a restaurant: You first have to get approval from the planning commission to build a restaurant at a location,” Ricard said. “Once that’s approved and you move forward and you want to build out your restaurant, the health department comes through and makes sure you have appropriate sinks and your kitchen is laid out in a sanitary manner and that type of thing.”
Dona Frank, founder of OrganiCann dispensary on Todd Road outside Santa Rosa, is eager to start selling cannabis to recreational customers, which California voters agreed to sanction with the passage of Proposition 64 nearly two years ago.
“Of course it’ll mean more business, but I think it’ll also give us an opportunity to show the world how great the cultivation and the cannabis industry is here in Northern California,” Frank said.
She was one of three people supervisors appointed to the county’s cannabis advisory group Tuesday.
Supervisors also changed the taxing schedules for pot farmers so their payment due dates are more in sync with the growing season. They also lowered the penalty rate from 25 percent to 10 percent.
The changes came three weeks after growers and anti-pot neighborhood activists clashed during a marathon board hearing about the county’s cannabis ordinances. But Tuesday’s amendments avoided the most controversial aspect of the broader debate: namely, where and how pot should be grown in Sonoma County.
The more contested aspects of regulating cannabis cultivation will be taken up through amendments to a separate land use ordinance.
County planning commissioners will consider some newer adjustments to those rules at a meeting next Thursday, after which supervisors are set to reconsider the full slate of land use amendments Oct. 9, Ricard said.
You can reach Staff Writer J.D. Morris at 707-521-5337 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @thejdmorris.