SAN BERNARDINO >> Marijuana cultivation and sale will remain illegal in unincorporated areas of the county even if state voters approve recreational marijuana, the Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday.

County staff wrote the updated ordinance so that a possible change in state law would not alter the prohibition on marijuana in unincorporated areas that’s been in force since 2011. That’s the oppositive of the approach taken in other cities, including San Bernardino, which put measures on the ballot to allow dispensaries and other marijuana activity.

Several supervisors suggested the county should consider changing its policy, but they then voted in favor of continuing the ban.

“I wonder if we’re being short-sighted to some of the economic impacts,” said Supervisor Curt Hagman. “… I hate to close the door and lose a factory here. I also don’t want an open door.”

Similarly, Supervisor Josie Gonzales said the possibilities for healthcare dollars was on her mind.

“Because I am pro-business and I want to be as competitive as we can, especially in the healthcare or medical fields, I don’t know if we’re reducing our propensity to be competitive,” Gonzales said, before adding that she wasn’t proposing any changes to the proposal. “This is just a discussion moment. … Foremost, before anything else, we must preserve the innocence, the health, the welfare of our children.”

If state voters approve it in November, Proposition 64 would legalize recreational marijuana throughout California. But it would also give local governments the right to add their own restrictions or bans.

State law does require some limited access. For instance, San Bernardino County will allow qualified patients and holders of medical marijuana identification cards and primary caregivers for no more than five patients to cultivate as many as 12 plants per patient, which must be indoors. The ordinance allows no more than 24 plants per residence.

Some cities, including San Bernardino, have struggled to enforce their ban on medical marijuana dispensaries. Despite opposition from selected officials, the city will have three different proposed initiatives — including one authored by the city — on the November ballot, all of which would allow marijuana dispensaries and cultivation, with different regulatory frameworks.

But the county, which has jurisdiction over areas that are not part of a city — including pockets within the city of San Bernardino — has effectively kept out dispensaries, Planning Director Terri Rahal told the board.

“We have not had, really, any enforcement problems thus far,” Rahal said. “The joint conclusion of the group that worked on this — and again, we did include law enforcement — was that there are no loopholes.”

Two members of the public addressed the board about marijuana Tuesday, both saying it should be legal.

The board also voted unanimously Tuesday to pay The Counseling Team another $100,000 to continue providing counseling services to county employees and family members of those who died in the Dec. 2 terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center.


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