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Placer County supes OK pot dispensary ban

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County won’t be sprouting pot shops any time soon. The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to back a planning division staff proposal to ban collectives and dispensaries by revising zoning rules. The board’s decision applies to unincorporated areas of the county and follows bans already in place in Auburn and other Placer County cities. The ban also applies to growers seeking approvals to move ahead with cash crops for dispensaries. “Astounded,” was how medicinal marijuana patient Richard Miller described his feelings after the vote by supervisors. Miller not only uses cannabis to treat a spinal cord injury but also uses marijuana salves on horses he rescues. “This will only drive it underground,” Miller said. “This is nothing more than a ban and I don’t think the patients should be sacrificed.” Fourteen-year-old compassionate-use-of-marijuana laws approved by state voters have been given more credibility in the last year with the federal Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute dispensaries working under California regulations. In November, California voters will decide whether to legal recreational use of marijuana. Supervisors, however, were leery of establishing approvals through business licenses and zoning on property that would allow cannabis dispensaries to set up shop. The lone dispensary in Placer County is located in Colfax and the city has since established its own ban to prevent others from obtaining a business permit. Supervisor Rocky Rockholm, who represents the Roseville area on the board, cited his 20 years experience on the Roseville Police Department, including three years undercover, in voting for the ban. Rockholm described what he called a “social experiment” in 2004 after a dispensary opened in Old Town Roseville and “became a criminal enterprise.” The Drug Enforcement Administration eventually shut it down, he said. Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, whose districts takes in the semi-rural eastern end of the county, said she was looking for more discussion on allowing dispensaries in light of five municipal advisory councils in her area coming out against the planning division proposal to ban dispensaries. Montgomery also alluded to a letter to the board from attorney David Brock, representing DHW Growers Cooperative and threatening legal action if the zoning was approved. Brock said the non-profit cooperative for patients and caregivers would file an injunction to bar its implementation. A report from the planning division said 121 cities and eight counties in California have already banned dispensaries while 33 cities and nine counties have put a moratorium in place. Nevada County has a moratorium while El Dorado County has banned dispensaries.