Mono County Supes revisit weed regulation, Sheriff Braun brings brownies
The cannabis workshop for the Mono County Supervisors on Tuesday, October 3 started the way any weed meeting should, with the Sheriff bringing brownies. Sheriff Ingrid Braun said they didn’t have marijuana in them. This reporter was unavailable to sample the goods himself to confirm this.
In November 2016, voters in the Golden State passed Proposition 64, which legalized the use of cannabis for recreational purposes in the State of California. The State has passed some blanket laws for cannabis use, but counties and municipalities have been left to pick out the stems and seeds and tailor uses like cultivation and sales to individual communities’ planning regulations. If Counties don’t create their own regulations, they risk the State coming in and doing so for them.
Currently, the Supervisors have instated a temporary moratorium on commercial cannabis activities, to allow staff time to craft laws about regulation and taxation.
Mono County’s Community Development Department Planning Analyst, Michael Draper, along with Senior Analyst Wendy Sugimura, passed around the latest information on the County’s responsibilities and state laws at the Tuesday, October 3 Board of Supervisors meeting.
“The only thing consistent with the State laws are that they are always in flux,” Sugimura said.
Time is running out for Mono County if it wishes to retain autonomy and impose its own localized regulations for cannabis use and production. Recreational use, sales and cultivation become legal on January 1, 2018. Sugimura said the County is trying to have regulations in place in time for the new year. Draper said if the County cannot have every piece in place before January 1, the County will continue its temporary moratorium on commercial activities, both medical and recreational.
The State is expected to roll out a new round of regulations in December. Sugimura called it “an impossible response time” for the County to be ready by January. So far, the State has not yet issued permitting structures and operational policies for recreational cannabis production or sale.
Currently, there is no tax on marijuana-related transactions in Mono County. The earliest voters can approve a tax on cannabis is November 2018, and the County will have to identify alternative funding sources for cannabis regulation until that time. The County could apply permitting fees before November 2018, but it would be premature to do so without first knowing what the tax amount is going to be, Draper explained.
Permitting fees could help reimburse the County for time spent regulating the local industry. Draper said it’s difficult to quantify how much staff time is being spent on current marijuana activity, but that those hours will be easier to track once regulatory policies are in place. He used Special Use Permits as an example; the permit has a base fee of $495, plus the cost of any staff time accrued to issue it.