Supes OK pot moratorium, begin study of specific regulations

A sheriff's deputy thumbs through bagged quantities of marijuana at the scene of a drug bust in Canyon Country Oct. 27, 2016. Austin Dave/The Signal

In the wake of Proposition 64 legalizing recreational marijuana in California, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously passed a pair of pot-related motions – one to enact a moratorium over a range of activities regarding the drug, the other to begin the long process of crafting ordinances to regulate its use.

Each matter passed by a 5-0 margin.

The moratorium, recommended by Santa Clarita-area Supervisor Kathryn Barger, slams the brakes on marijuana cultivation, manufacture, retail sale and other such endeavors until the county can enact a wide range of regulation ordinances.

The ban covers unincorporated areas of the county. The city of Santa Clarita last month passed a similar moratorium while the City Council studies all manner of local implications and possible regulations regarding Prop 64-related matters.

“It’s a stop-gap measure to maintain some semblance of order until regulations can be officially enacted,” Tony Bell, Barger’s spokesman, said of the county moratorium passed Tuesday.

“That could take some time. A great deal of study is needed before it (final ordinances) can be brought back to the supervisors for final approval.”

The moratorium covers medical and non-medical marijuana issues, though Prop 64 pertained only to non-medical use. The state had earlier legalized medical marijuana.

Barger’s moratorium would hit the pause button until the county can sort through a huge range of regulatory issues covering public safety, law enforcement, zoning, land use, the environment, taxation, licensing and other areas.

That’s where the second item passed by the supervisors on Tuesday comes in.

Co-sponsored by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Janice Hahn, that measure now begins the process of “stakeholder engagement with community members from each Supervisorial District to assist the County in reviewing appropriate medical and commercial cannabis regulations and best practices …”

While Prop 64 allows for recreational pot use, it does not strip individual municipalities, counties or law-enforcement authorities from imposing specific restrictions.

Santa Clarita’s City Council in January extended a city moratorium through the end of 2017 on most non-medical marijuana activities. The city currently does not allow medical marijuana shops.

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