California, Sonoma

Medical marijuana by county.

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California, Sonoma

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Apr 07, 2006 4:24 pm

04/04/06 6:45 PDT

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors agreed this afternoon to extend the county's moratorium on new medical marijuana dispensaries for one year and to eventually amend the county's zoning code to allow them in designated districts.

The existing moratorium on new dispensaries in the unincorporated area expires on May 16. The board will vote on May 2 or 9 to extend the moratorium another year.

Amending the zoning code to permit the dispensaries in specific districts is favored by medical marijuana advocates and patients' rights groups as the best way to provide legitimate patients' safe access to marijuana.

Board members weighed six options that also included considering dispensaries illegal because of federal drug laws.

The option favored by the board will allow the dispensaries in designated areas subject to conditions that address neighborhood impacts. Granting a use permit in zoning districts would be on a case-by-case basis.

The dispensaries also would be subject to operating standards that could include prohibition of on-site consumption and sales of other merchandise, a limit of the days and hours of operation and separating the dispensaries from "sensitive land uses'' such as schools and residential areas.

Seven Sonoma County cities have moratoriums in place and Santa Rosa has adopted an ordinance that regulates two medical marijuana dispensaries through business licensing.

Board members said the amendment to the zoning code could be completed in less than a year.
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Sonoma County Approves New Medical Pot Guidelines

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Sep 26, 2006 6:38 pm wrote:Sep 26, 2006 4:16 pm US/Pacific

Sonoma County Approves New Medical Pot Guidelines

<table class=posttable align=right width=175><tr><td class=postcell><img src=bin/sonoma_medical-marijuana.jpg></td></tr></table>(BCN) SANTA ROSA New guidelines were approved by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Tuesday for medical marijuana patients and their care providers.

The board passed a resolution allowing a qualified patient or primary caregiver to possess up to three pounds of dried marijuana per year. Growers may cultivate the pot in an area not to exceed 100 square feet total garden canopy per qualified patient.

Qualified patients and primary caregivers are not allowed to grow more then 30 plants per patient, under the guidelines unanimously approved Tuesday morning.

A state statute approved on Jan. 1, 2004 allows counties to establish medical marijuana guidelines and allows the counties to exceed a default threshold of exceed eight ounces of dried marijuana in addition to no more than six mature or 12 immature plants per qualified patient.

Deputy County Counsel Bruce Goldstein said the guidelines were agreed to by the county district attorney’s office, the sheriff’s department and the county’s law enforcement chief’s association. The guidelines take effect Nov. 1.

The policy of the district attorney’s office is to not prosecute growers of 99 or fewer medical marijuana plants, Goldstein said.

About a dozen speakers weighed in on the guidelines. Some said the 99-plant limit should remain and others said 30 plants and three pounds of marijuana was sufficient for the average patient.

A spokeswoman for the Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana said the organization doesn’t care how many plants are allowed as long as a 100-square foot canopy is included in the resolution.

Supervisor Mike Reilly said the resolution is a compromise that continues the county’s progressive support of medical marijuana as approved by voters of Proposition 215 in 1996, but does not guarantee growers and patients will not be prosecuted by federal authorities. It is still against federal law to use or possess marijuana.

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News in brief from California's North Coast

Postby Midnight toker » Fri Sep 29, 2006 1:08 pm

The San Luis Obispo Tribume wrote:Posted on Thu, Sep. 28, 2006

News in brief from California's North Coast

The San Luis Obispo Tribune

SANTA ROSA, Calif. - Sonoma County supervisors approved new medical marijuana rules that offer a compromise between patients and law enforcement.

The resolution, which takes effect Nov. 1, allows users to possess three pounds of medicinal pot and cultivate 30 plants in a 100-square-foot garden. Those restrictions are higher than state law, which limit possession to eight ounces and cultivation to 18 plants.

Under state law, individual counties may enact their own laws that exceed state regulations. Mendocino, Humboldt, Santa Cruz and San Francisco counties also have more lenient possession and cultivation restrictions than the state.

Sonoma County, which has an estimated 3,000 medical marijuana users, previously allowed up to 99 plants - a number that sheriff's officials said was too high.

Mary Pat Jacobs of the Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana said she supported the new rules approved Tuesday.

"The question is, what is a reasonable amount that a patient can use, and what is a reasonable amount that a patient can grow," Jacobs said. "This is a good average."


SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (AP) - The Marin County Sheriff has called in Campaign Against Marijuana Planting authorities to put state aircraft and marijuana-detecting electronics into play as officials continue to scan wildland regions for the illegal plants.

"I think we will find more," Sheriff Robert Doyle said.

Recent raids seized sophisticated growing plots and removed plants with an estimated street value of $80 million. Some of the patches, at which more than 26,000 marijuana plants have been seized in two weeks, appeared to have been in place for years, Doyle said.

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Tentative Approval of Medical Pot Dispensary Ordinance

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Jan 31, 2007 2:18 pm wrote:TENTATIVE APPROVAL OF MEDICAL POT DISPENSARY ORDINANCE IN SONOMA

01/30/07 6:30 PST

Sonoma County's Board of Supervisors approved by a 5-0 straw vote this afternoon a proposed ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the county. A final vote is scheduled for March 20.

The board heard comments from more than a dozen medical marijuana patients and providers. There is a moratorium on new dispensaries in the unincorporated areas of the county until May 5 and some of the county's cities also have passed moratoriums.

The board directed the county's Permit and Resource Management Department to draft an ordinance requiring 1,000 feet between a dispensary and a school, day care center or playground. Each dispensary will have to obtain a use permit and a public hearing will be held on each application.

The board disapproved of the planning department's allowance of consumption of marijuana on the dispensaries' premises. Board members said they are concerned about transportation and safety. The board had no objection about dispensaries remaining open on Sundays and holidays.

Under the proposed ordinance, there will be a Level 1 dispensary of not more than 1,000 square feet serving less than 300 patients and no more than 20 patients between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. each business day.

A Level 2 dispensary could serve more than 299 patients and/or be in a facility greater than 1,000 square feet and serving more than 20 patients between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. each business day.

The proposed ordinance prohibits exterior signs or symbols that advertise the availability of cannabis and prohibits people under age 18 on the premises.

Sheriff Bill Cogbill said the ordinance, if approved "will not ensure that an investigation or prosecution will not occur'' for retail sale of marijuana.

County guidelines allow medical marijuana patients to cultivate 30 plants and possess 3 pounds of marijuana but state and federal laws prohibit the retail sale of marijuana, Cogbill said.

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Fee Hige For Medical Marijuana Cards

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun May 27, 2007 7:39 pm


Published on February 18, 2007

© 2007- The Press Democrat



A hefty fee increase for state-issued medical marijuana identification cards has local and statewide advocates concerned that it will drive away participants and weaken the voluntary program.

As of March 1, the state's annual fee for individuals will jump from $13 to $142, and for Medi-Cal patients, from $6.50 to $71.

Because individual counties also charge a fee for processing applications, those seeking a card for medical marijuana could pay more than $200.

``It will discourage participation. We're talking about patients here, not healthy individuals who just go out and earn more money. They're on disability or a very limited income anyway,'' said Doc Knapp, spokesman for Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana and a card holder himself.

County and state officials say the increase is necessary to pay the program's costs.

The cards, indicating legitimate medical use, offer a level of protection to medical marijuana patients from arrest and plant seizure. Participation is voluntary.

Sonoma County public health officials notified the county's 375 card holders early this month of the pending increase. Mendocino County currently has 492 cardholders.

In Sonoma County, cardholders would pay a total of $209, and in Mendocino County, the fee would be $199. Medi-Cal patients would pay about half.

State Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, last week sent a letter to Sandra Shewry, the head of the Department of Health Services, urging her to postpone the increase.

``Raising the fee to enroll in this optional program to an untenable level dooms the state program to failure and undermines safety of patients who are already suffering,'' he said.

By law, the voluntary card program has to pay for itself. And the only income is the fees, said Michelle Mussuto, state health services spokeswoman. While all the state's counties are mandated to join the program, there is no deadline to comply. That means many counties -- including large ones like Los Angeles -- are still not participating.

The state initially estimated as many as 150,000 patients would participate from all 58 counties. So far, 24 counties offer the card program and 9,500 people are signed up.

The initial program budget three years ago was about $1.5 million. It's down to $850,000 for 2006-2007, Mussuto said.

The cost includes making and shipping the cards, salaries for two full-time and one part-time employee, and a 24-hour database for law enforcement to verify cards.

Card holders must apply annually. If they come in prior to the March 1 date, they can pay the current lower fees, said Dr. Leigh Hall, Sonoma County's deputy director of public health.

``Really, in the long run, (state health officials) are going to shoot themselves in the foot and quite potentially undermine the program,'' said Kris Hermes, legal campaign director for Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group based in Oakland.

The groups wants the state to postpone the increase for at least one year, allowing more counties to participate.

Los Angeles County has said it will soon join the program, which could provide a financial boost enabling the state to keep costs lower, Leno said.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or

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The Pot Haze

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun May 27, 2007 7:47 pm


Published on February 18, 2007

© 2007- The Press Democrat



Ten years after state voters approved the use of medical marijuana, Sonoma County's courts, law enforcement, politicians -- and patients -- are still struggling to make the law work in the face of unyielding federal policy that considers any use of the drug illegal.

That conflict is playing out this month in two Sonoma County courtrooms, in the Sebastopol council chambers and in the daily lives of 375 holders of state-issued medical marijuana ID cards who face huge fee increases.

The courts are dealing with law enforcement authorities who are refusing to return medical marijuana because they say they are bound by federal law.

At the same time, Sebastopol, following the lead of Santa Rosa and county government, is trying to declare rules for setting up medical pot dispensaries in the city.

The result is a dizzying array of costly policies and regulations intended to both regulate marijuana use and help and protect medical marijuana users.

``It's a big mess,'' said Sonoma County Sheriff Bill Cogbill. ``I'm really worried about how this is all going to play out. Unless something is done to clarify the law in this regard, we're going to see the proliferation of marijuana in society.''

Berta Bollinger, 54, an active member and patient of the Caregiver Compassion Center in Santa Rosa, said advocates are working hard to get the federal government to recognize medicinal uses for marijuana.

``It's not going to happen in this administration,'' said Bollinger, who has a doctor's recommendation to use medical marijuana to treat her depression, panic disorder and pain and fatigue symptoms. ``It's a slow process but we're getting there.''

The proposed ordinance that goes before the Sebastopol City Council on Tuesday would require a public permit process handled through the city's Planning Department. Cotati also is considering an ordinance to regulate dispensaries within city limits.

Sebastopol and Cotati are moving forward after a period of several years in which cities countywide put a halt to the unregulated cannabis clubs that began appearing after the passage of Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.

<span class=postbold>Local officials on their own</span>

Since the act does not address the issue of how or where people are supposed to get their medical marijuana, local officials are on their own designing local regulations.

``It's been a struggle. This was just so unclear in state law,'' said Jane Riley, a planner with the Sonoma County Permit Resource and Planning Department. ``With things like granny units, state law is very specific.''

Sonoma County gave preliminary approval three weeks ago to an ordinance allowing for dispensaries to be set up in urban areas of the unincorporated county. The ordinance, which goes before supervisors March 20 for final approval, would require dispensaries to obtain a use permit to operate.

The final language in the ordinance is currently being fine-tuned, but supervisors have said they do not want on-site consumption and that operations should be restricted to beyond 1,000 feet of a school ground.

Under the proposed Sebastopol ordinance, only one dispensary would be permitted during the first year the ordinance is enacted. Another would be allowed in the second year. The number of dispensaries would be capped at two.

``We are putting it through the standard public hearing process,'' said Kenyon Webster, a city planner in Sebastopol. ``We see this as a sensitive land use that needs careful review.''

Webster cited potential adverse effects, such as parking and traffic problems as well as the potential for criminal activity.

Criminal activity is the element that upsets neighbors and the reason cities struggle to find locations.

In November, two men carrying guns and wearing ski masks forced their way into a Sebastopol home, bound the couple living there and left with marijuana plants intended for medical use.

In April, a 31-year-old Santa Rosa man was shot and killed in his Wheeler Street home. Police believe the shooter was there to take the victim's marijuana, kept for medical reasons.

Such examples have cities throughout the county moving carefully as they try to determine just where to allow marijuana to be sold.

``There are significant legal issues between what the voters of California envision and the federal government,'' said Webster.

Unlike under the county ordinance, on-site consumption would be allowed in Sebastopol.

Legal experts say that inconsistencies such as these are a direct result of a lack of direction from the state.

Santa Rosa City Attorney Brien Farrell said it's taken many years to make sense of Proposition 215 and SB 420, subsequent state legislation that created a voluntary medical marijuana ID program that was supposed to clear up ambiguities in the original proposition.

<span class=postbold>Law still `getting worked out'</span>

``There's a clear desire for consistency and clarity and an interpretation of what rules apply,'' Farrell said. ``What is the law in California? That is still getting worked out these many years later.''

Santa Rosa got its medical marijuana ordinance in November 2005, just seven months after adopting a ban to gain control of unregulated dispensaries, including one on Sonoma Avenue near Juilliard Park.

Nowhere has the conflict between federal and state marijuana laws become more evident than in the county courtrooms, where some law enforcement officials are refusing to return confiscated medical marijuana.

On Thursday, Deputy Sonoma County Counsel Anne Keck, representing the Sheriff's Department, was handed a setback in her effort to avoid returning 25 pounds of marijuana taken from the home of an employee of Marvin's Garden, a medical marijuana cooperative in Guerneville.

Superior Court Judge Raima Ballinger rejected Keck's request for lengthy civil discovery that would allow the Sheriff's Department to verify the legitimacy of Marvin's Garden, as well as the employee, Kenneth Wilson.

``We don't think that returning this property is legal,'' said Keck, adding that it was not clear if the marijuana was being held by ``a lawful person.''

<span class=postbold>Judge cites court's role</span>

Ballinger made it clear to Keck that it was up to the court to decide whether the marijuana should be returned and that the job of the Sheriff's Department was to act as custodian of the confiscated property.

In a similar case, Judge Lawrence Antolini has ordered the Santa Rosa Police Department to return 18 pounds of medical marijuana to Shashon Jenkins, 26.

Jenkins was arrested in October but the District Attorney's Office decided not to file charges after Jenkins provided evidence that he was a medical marijuana user and a provider for other patients.

In both cases, law enforcement officials argue that returning the marijuana would put them in jeopardy of violating federal laws that make marijuana illegal, regardless of whether it is being used for medicinal purposes.

But William Panzer, an Oakland-based attorney who co-wrote Proposition 215, said that argument is a smoke screen. Panzer, who represents Marvin's Garden, said it's a question of jurisdiction.

``If you're in federal court, federal law applies. If you're in state court, state law applies,'' said Panzer. ``Law enforcement doesn't like (Proposition 215) and they don't want to follow it.''

<span class=postbold>Lack of federal clarity</span>

Sheriff Cogbill said it's not that simple. He wants more clarification from both the Supreme Court and Congress.

Cogbill said the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said medical use of marijuana was still illegal under existing federal laws fell short of declaring such laws as Proposition 215 illegal.

``What it does is put law enforcement and criminal justice in a quandary,'' Cogbill said. ``If it has a medical use, then the federal government needs to recognize that and schedule it as one of those drugs that has a medical purpose.''

The quasi-legitimacy of marijuana use has led to a lack of oversight and regulation of its use as a medicine, Cogbill said.

``If we don't have tighter controls on it, it's going to get out of hand,'' said Cogbill. ``Those cannabis clubs have to get their pot from someplace. Are we now allowing organized crime to have a foothold in our community?''

The challenges are significant, but they are the natural result of trying to resolve the law and community needs, said one medical marijuana provider.

John Sugg of the Caregiver Compassion Center in Santa Rosa said city and county ordinances regulating marijuana dispensaries are a sign that marijuana laws are being taken seriously.

``Sure, it's been 10 years since the law passed, but the (Santa Rosa) ordinance demonstrates that the whole thing is maturing,'' he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 521-5213 or

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Supes Deny Permit For Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Dec 19, 2007 12:42 pm

KTVU TV2 wrote:Supes Deny Permit For Medical Marijuana Dispensary Near Sonoma

KTVU TV2 (San Francisco)
November 27th, 2007

Sonoma County's Board of Supervisors denied a use permit late Tueday afternoon for a medical cannabis dispensary off Riverside Drive just outside the limits of the City of Sonoma. The 3-0 vote with two board members absent came after a three-hour hearing. Most of those who spoke during the public portion of the hearing favored the proposal by Dona Frank who operates the Organic Cannabis Foundation of Northern California dispensary on Santa Rosa Avenue in Santa Rosa. But Sonoma area neighbors said they are concerned about traffic, crime and reduced property values they believed the dispensary would cause. The proposed dispensary within an existing 2,624-square foot commercial space occupied by other commercial uses is 53.16 feet within the nearest residential zoning district.

The county's ordinance that regulates medical marijuana dispensaries requires a 100-foot setback.

"I missed it by 46.84 feet," a disappointed Frank said after the hearing. Board Chair Valerie Brown, in whose district the dispensary would have been located, and Supervisor Mike Kerns said they were mainly concerned with the location of the dispensary so close to a residential area in violation of the ordinance. Supervisor Tim Smith agreed but also cited concerns about traffic and security.

"I hate deviating from an ordinance we worked so hard on. The burden (to obtain a use permit) falls on the applicant to assuage the fears of the neighbors," Smith said.

The county's Permit and Resource Management Department recommended denying the use permit "based on the proximity to a residential neighborhood and compatibility concerns related to noise, crime, and presence of school children in the vicinity."

Lisa Gygax, Frank's attorney, called the decision a "backwards ban." No existing medical marijuana dispensaries in the county, two in Santa Rosa and one in Sebastopol, are more than 100 feet from a residential area, Gygax said after the hearing.

Frank's proposed dispensary was the first application for a dispensary in the unincorporated area of the county. Proponents of the dispensary said other commercial units operating in the building on the 4.14-acre site do not have use permits. Frank said her dispensary in Santa Rosa, which has been operating for three years, does not have a permit and is surrounded on three sides by residential zones. It opened before a permit was required.

"No one can traverse this ordinance. The rules are so strict, no one in the county can comply. I feel the deck is stacked and they know it," Frank said.
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