County of Marin - News Releases - Medical Cannabis Ordinance

For Immediate Release
September 02, 2016

Timetable Revised for Medical Cannabis Dispensaries

San Rafael, CA – By early 2017, the County of Marin expects to issue licenses for up to four medical cannabis dispensaries to operate in unincorporated areas of the county.

Tablets of medical cannabis on a table with a small container of leaves and a stethoscopeThe County's medical cannabis ordinance was approved in December 2015.

The Marin County Community Development Agency (CDA) is reviewing applications and has updated its medical cannabis dispensary program webpage with more information.  An advisory committee will hold public meetings as early as January to hear from the public about the proposed applications. The committee will be asked to rank the applications and present its recommendations to County Administrator Matthew Hymel regarding which licenses to grant.

“We’re being very deliberate and careful as we thoroughly review all the applications,” said Assistant CDA Director Tom Lai. “We know there’s a lot of interest in the community, and there will be adequate time for the public to provide feedback.”

The application period closed August 31. CDA staff is planning for a slightly longer timeline on the approval process than originally publicized to provide an opportunity for community feedback and to thoroughly review all 12 applications.

The dispensary program received unanimous support from the Marin County Board of Supervisors on May 3, 2016, clearing the way for prospective business owners to start submitting applications by July. The program was patterned after one adopted in Berkeley and includes the publication of an application guide, an application form and a fee schedule.

Under the County’s medical cannabis ordinance approved in December 2015, the County will allow no more than two dispensaries in the highly populated Highway 101 corridor in eastern Marin and no more than two in the more rural central and western parts of the county. All eligible sites are pinpointed on maps provided by CDA.

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. The County’s ordinance is consistent with the state’s Compassionate Use Act and Medical Cannabis Program. A licensed dispensary would have to be least 800 feet from schools, public parks, smoke shops, and other cannabis dispensaries to qualify for a permit.

The Board of Supervisors acknowledged that rules and regulations could change locally if recreational use of cannabis is legalized in the coming months. The County’s medical cannabis ordinance is unrelated to the statewide measure on the November 2016 ballot about the legalization of recreational cannabis.

Cannabis dispensaries previously had been prohibited in unincorporated Marin, and none are open or permitted in any of the county’s towns or cities. The ordinance establishes 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.

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


Inge Lundegaard
Planning Manager
Community Development Agency

Marin County Civic Center
3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 308
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7023
CRS Dial 711

Email: Inge Lundegaard
CDA website