Placer County commission high on pot dispensary ban

Planning Commission recommends staff plan to disallow marijuana collectives to operate in county
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County’s proposed pot shop ban won the backing Thursday of the Placer County Planning Commission despite the pleas of prospective medicinal marijuana dispensary owners in Auburn and Tahoe City. Auburn’s Tim Heer said the recent loss of his paving business sent him looking for another in a quest for an income. The city of Auburn has already banned collectives so he has been seriously considering a location in unincorporated Placer County. A medicinal marijuana patient who drinks cannabis-infused tea because of allergies, Heer said a cannabis collective in the Auburn area could employ seven others. “I stand here with no business, no job and tomorrow doesn’t look so good,” Heer said. “I probably could collect disability from the state but I need to work. I’m not here as a get-rich scam.” The commission voted 5-1 in favor of a recommending to supervisors that revised zoning rules include a ban on medical marijuana collectives, cooperatives or dispensaries operating in the county. Cities have their own jurisdictions but only one – Colfax – has a dispensary, while nearby Sacramento has a dozen or more. Michael Sabistina traveled from King’s Beach to try to convince the commission not to support the ban – which is already being used by several local jurisdictions to keep pot collectives from setting up shop. A report from the county planning division stated 120 cities and eight counties have banned dispensaries while another 30 cities and nine counties have adopted ordinances to regulate dispensaries. Sabistina, who said he’s close to opening a location in Tahoe City, submitted a list of 300 people supportive of the dispensary. “I’m not trying to open a pot club,” he said. “I’m trying to open a medical marijuana collective.” Sabistina said any ban would force many Tahoe-area residents on a drive in unsafe winter conditions either to Colfax or the three collectives located in El Dorado County on the South Shore. The commission voted 5-1 to support the ban, which will next be heard by the county Board of Supervisors at a future meeting. Planner Jennifer Dzakowic outlined the pot dispensary ban to commissioners, stating that it doesn’t overlap state law under Prop. 215 that protects medicinal marijuana users and growers against arrest. “What we’re talking about is land uses in Placer County and business uses,” Dzakowic said. Dzakowic cited a state Police Officers Association report that linked pot dispensaries to illegal drug use, sales, robberies, loitering around dispensaries and falsely obtained ID cards. Sgt. John Weaver told commissioners during the hearing that the Placer County Sheriff’s Department has no stance on the ban proposal, adding that the department follows state Attorney General’s guidelines on amounts possessed and the presence of a state-approved ID card in making arrests. Commissioner Mickey Gray was the lone panel member to cast a “no” vote. “My view is we should control and regulate rather than have people driving through the snow or going to the criminal element,” Gray said.