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Tulare County Planning Commission deadlocks over cannabis ordinance

Tulare County Planning Commission deadlocks over cannabis ordinance

Planning commission votes 3-3 on change of cannabis ordinance countywide, moves to board of supervisors without recommendation

By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN

TULARE COUNTY – While cities throughout Tulare County are seeking to cash in on commercial cannabis, the County of Tulare is not ready to buy in. Late last month the Tulare County Planning Commission deadlocked on a 3-3 vote to recommend the board of supervisors repeal and update the zoning ordinance pertaining to cannabis activities.

According to planning director Mike Washam, the board of supervisors will still hold a public hearing on the ordinance change just without the recommendation of the planning commission. In all the ordinance change is rather limited. Washam said the tweaks are minimal and deal with the date of the ordinance they passed two years ago banning commercial cannabis while keeping the two licenses for medical marijuana businesses that are currently running.

“Overall this is as far as the county goes… With a few technical things, it’s basically status quo going forward,” Washam said.

Washam added the ordinance needs to be made permanent because the County cannot continue to ban commercial and medical marijuana under a temporary basis; and the ordinance time limit is up in August. Of course the County still needs to hold a public hearing on the minor ordinance change and may make some additional revisions, but the Board can also change the ordinance when they see fit.

“They can readdress it and make any changes [they want]. We’re going to continue doing what we’ve been doing the last two years and move forward,” Washam stated.

There are other, less notable reasons the County does not want to get involved in commercial cannabis. One such reason, Washam said the County would rather not become a competitor for potential revenue dollars with the eight cities in Tulare County.  

“There has been some concern about oversaturation of the market place. Farmersville has tried to get people to come in and now they are considering having retail locations as well,” Washam added. “For the cities that choose to do that it can be a boon to their budget. 

If the County were to allow for commercial cannabis and more medical marijuana cannabis facilities, they would be faced with a unique set of hurdles other cities do not have. Where Woodlake has laid down strict rules with Valley Pure, the least of which is a direct streaming surveillance video to the police department, the County would have to implement those types of safeguards and then check in on them with regular code enforcement. Although Washam also noted that State inspectors would provide levels of oversight as well. Nonetheless local oversight at the County level could require a significant use of resources. 

In terms of pure geography Washam said it can take five or six hours to get to some parts of the County. And just because there is legal marijuana now does not mean illegal marijuana grows have gone away. Washam noted that Tulare County law enforcement still has an eye out for illegal grows in the forest side of the County. He added there is still the danger of illegal pesticide use and illegal grows and “booby-traps” meant to ensnare patrolling officers. 

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