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County Cracks Down on Cannabis

Landlords of marijuana dispensaries can be fined $500 to $1,000 per day.

By Linda Park

and their landlords may be facing daily fines up to $1,000 starting immediately.

The landlords also face possible liens for unpaid fines and injunctions to shut down the facilities.

against medical marijuana dispensaries and their landlords for operating without business licenses and use permits in the unincorporated areas of the county, even though no such licenses and permits exist.

“While we are working on long‐term regulations, property owners and facility operators need to be aware that there is no plan to grandfather the existing facilities and enforcement will be stepped up,” Steve Szalay, Interim County Executive, said in a press release. “We can’t legitimize businesses and property owners that are ignoring County codes and regulations.”

The goal is for the county to enforce existing local planning and building regulations for violations of building and zoning codes with the Sheriff, Building Inspection, Business Licensing and Code Enforcement departments.

“The reason that they’re doing this is that these businesses are not operating within the law,” said Chris Andis, public information officer for Sacramento County. “They haven’t been. They opened up their business knowing that it was not permitted, and they’ve got to follow through on enforcing the regulations.”

Andis said the code enforcement is complaint-driven, so the businesses will only be investigated if the county receives a complaint.

The issue came to light during board hearings about how many marijuana dispensaries were .

“[The board] felt that we have to apply rules evenly, and we don’t allow other businesses to operate without a permit,” Andis said. “We don’t allow people to operate illegally, and these people are proliferating and growing.”

Andis said there are numerous dispensaries that have open investigations, some open for several months, but that the fines have not been implemented. 

The main complaints the county receives about the dispensaries are traffic, loitering and odor. The complaints then go into a complaint system that goes into the code enforcement file for an investigation.

Volen Properties, former landlord of Green Love Holistic Center on Fair Oaks Boulevard, said the dispensary left their center several months ago, but did not want to say why.

Marissa Burt, a property manager for Volen Properties, said she had no knowledge of the new county ordinance.

“I think there is not enough information out there for property owners on what is the right thing,” Burt said. “We need a yes or a no. Is this really the law?”

Alternative Medical Source on Fair Oaks Boulevard opened in February of this year and is still currently operating. Employee Kevin Holmes said he doesn’t see the county shutting down all of the dispensaries because there are too many patients too sick to drive into Sacramento.

“People would stand up and speak their minds,” Holmes said. “It’s a state law and we need to persuade the county. I don’t think they could take it completely out of Sacramento.”

He said dispensaries are very important to the community and having them readily available for sick patients is needed, since getting transportation is difficult for many of their patients.

“I would love it if the county board members came and sat here one day to see what the patients really look like,” Holmes said. “Some can drive into Sacramento, but others can barely make it out of their front door.”

Shohreh Mirzania, owner of the Subway in the shopping center next door to Alternative Medical Source said having the dispensary nearby does not really affect her business. She said dispensary customers park in their parking lot, but that isn’t an issue either.

The only change Mirzania said she has had to make because of the dispensary was making the restroom for customers only, because people from the dispensary would often come into her restaurant just to use the restroom.

The county is still working on the issue of having available licenses and permits for the marijuana facilities, but it has not yet been decided whether or not licenses or permits will even become available.

Andis said that it will probably take about six months for the Board of Supervisors to make a decision.

“We don’t know which way this is going to go,” Andis said. “They are meeting to craft out what is going to be the best for everybody.”

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Bettie September 01, 2011 at 02:59 PM
Leave the dispenseries alone.

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