County officials eye ban on marijuana businesses but may welcome hemp

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County officials eye ban on marijuana businesses but may welcome hemp
credit:Ventura County Star

Ventura County supervisors are being asked Tuesday to start the process for banning businesses that sell or produce marijuana for recreational use, but also order an analysis of the potential for growing hemp.

Supervisors Linda Parks and John Zaragoza called for the ban in the unincorporated territory before the state starts licensing commercial marijuana businesses in January. The licenses are allowed under Proposition 64, which in November legalized recreational use of marijuana for adults age 21 and over.

General information on Proposition 64 and how it applies to Ventura County MATTHEW SAINT/STAR STAFF

If jurisdictions do not have ordinances in place banning the businesses, the state can issue licenses without their permission, county Resource Management Director Chris Stephens said Friday.

The supervisors oversee the unincorporated territory outside the 10 local cities. That includes farmland, open space and small communities such as Somis, Oak View and Oak Park.

Zaragoza portrayed the step as a placeholder.

“Come Jan. 1, we are going to be at the mercy of the state if we do not act on marijuana,” he said. “We are not banning it per se. We just want some time to look at it, to regulate it.”

At the time, Parks raised concerns about the size of the businesses and community opposition.

She said Thursday that an ordinance — which is a law — would preserve the ability of communities to weigh in on business operations for recreational use.

“I know some communities are accepting of it, and some are not,” she said. “It gives local jurisdictions a say instead of having the state make the determination.”

The two supervisors are asking the board to authorize managers to prepare an ordinance prohibiting operations by retailers and distributors as well as the cultivation and manufacturing of marijuana. They also want to examine the production of industrial hemp, which was legalized under the initiative.

The commodity is used to make clothing, paper and construction materials but does not contain psychoactive properties, Parks said. Local growers have expressed a strong interest in cultivating hemp, and clothing manufacturers are interested in obtaining it from a local source, she said.

“A lot of business owners would love to have a legal source instead of having it shipped from China,” she said.

The board is scheduled to take up the item at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the boardroom at the Hall of Administration at the Ventura County Government Center, 800 S. Victoria Ave., Ventura.

credit:vcstar.com

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