County of Marin - News Releases - Medical Cannabis Ordinance

For Immediate Release
December 04, 2015

Supervisors to Consider Cannabis Ordinance

Process for licensing dispensaries goes before Board for adoption December 8

San Rafael, CA – After several key revisions, a medical cannabis ordinance that would allow the licensing of up to four dispensaries spread out in the unincorporated areas of Marin County will be brought before the Marin County Board of Supervisors on December 8.

A draft ordinance was reviewed at a public workshop in June and introduced at a first reading in October, then again in early November, but the Board directed the Community Development Agency (CDA) to work on revisions with County attorneys and a Board subcommittee. The revised draft ordinance, which is consistent with the state’s Compassionate Use Act and Medical Cannabis Program, is on the County website.

Currently, cannabis dispensaries are prohibited in unincorporated Marin, and none are open or permitted in any of the county’s towns or cities. The proposed ordinance would establish a regulatory framework to license nonprofit patient collectives to meet the medical needs of local patients, many of whom have voiced the need for local dispensaries before the Board of Supervisors. Subcommittee members Supervisor Judy Arnold and Supervisor Damon Connolly have remarked about the importance of public input and need for a safe and disciplined method of medical cannabis delivery in Marin.

The ordinance would limit the number of dispensaries to four commercially zoned locations within unincorporated Marin – no more than two in the highly populated Highway 101 corridor and no more than two in the more rural central and western parts of the county. Among the updated stipulations of the ordinance is a restriction that a licensed dispensary would have to be least 800 feet from K-12 schools, public parks, smoke shops, and other cannabis dispensaries.

A medical cannabis ordinance would implement the recently approved California Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, authored by Marin’s representative in the California Senate, Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on October 9. The new law established a comprehensive state program for regulating all aspects of medical cannabis, from cultivation to distribution, with allowances for municipalities to establish local standards for dispensaries. The proposed Marin ordinance would create a path for locally licensed dispensaries to be eligible to apply for the new state license when the state's program launches in a few years.

The County expects that all costs of the program to be borne by the dispensaries through fees to be established separately by the Board. CDA staff plans to include a cannabis dispensary licensing program in the County’s 2016-17 budget.

Although cannabis is considered an illegal drug by the federal government, Proposition 215 ensures that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use cannabis for medical purposes upon receiving a recommendation from a physician. Patients and primary caregivers are exempt from criminal liability for possession and cultivation of cannabis. In 2003, the state Legislature adopted the Medical Marijuana Program to clarify the scope of lawful medical cannabis practices.

Sign up to receive emailed County updates on CDA’s Medical Cannabis Dispensary Ordinance webpage.


Tom Lai
Deputy Director
Community Development Agency

Marin County Civic Center
3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 308
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6292
CRS Dial 711

Email: Tom Lai
CDA website