Current Inyo County does not have an ordinance regulating commercial medical marijuana dispensary operation or cultivation in unincorporated Inyo County (all lands outside the City of Bishop jurisdiction). The County’s current practice regarding regulation has been through zoning, which prohibits such activity under Inyo County Code Section 18.78.020; “Nothing in this title shall establish rules and regulations where in conflict with state or federal law.” However, this issue is being considered in response to continued interest in dispensaries and cultivation in Inyo County and the changing State regulatory climate.
In May 2015 the topic of regulating commercial medical marijuana was brought to the Board of Supervisors as a workshop. The purpose of the workshop was to give the Board an opportunity to consider whether and how the County may regulate medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation, and, to provide direction regarding the path forward. At the end of the workshop the Board asked staff to continue research on the topic and identify how other municipalities are regulating commercial marijuana.
Recently, it has been confirmed that the topic of marijuana will be on the State’s November 8th, 2016 election ballot in the form of a measure asking voters if they are in favor of the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act”. The Act would legalize marijuana use and hemp cultivation, along with imposing a tax on the sale, cultivation, and manufacturing of marijuana. However, the Act preserves local government’s power to regulate marijuana as they see fit.
In response, a workshop was scheduled for the Board of Supervisors meeting on August 2nd, 2016 to revisit the topic. At this meeting Planning Department staff presented findings on the topics proposed by the Board in May 2015. Additionally, a presentation was given by Rural County Representatives of California senior legislative advocate, Paul Smith, to inform the Board of the current state and federal statutory environment. At the end of this meeting the Board asked staff to draft two advisory questions and one tax approval vote to be placed on the County’s November 8th, 2016 election ballot. The finalized ballot items are listed below on this page as “Resolution 2016-31” and “Resolution 2016-32”.
The voting outcome on both the County’s ballot questions and the State marijuana initiative will guide the Board of Supervisors in future decision-making of medical and nonmedical commercial marijuana business within unincorporated Inyo County.
Inyo County may regulate medical and nonmedical marijuana dispensaries, collectives, cooperatives, grow sites or mobile dispensaries through zoning and land use regulations. Regulation may range from minor restrictions to a total ban of all industry aspects. If marijuana activity were permitted by the County, the operators (and participants) would be responsible for complying with State and County regulations.
See link for more information on State ballot initiative: https://ballotpedia.org/California_Marijuana_Legalization_Initiative,_Proposition_64_(2016)
See link to Rural County Representatives of California: http://www.rcrcnet.org/issues/marijuana