SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sacramento County Supervisors will decide the fate of commercial marijuana businesses on Tuesday. The proposal they’ll vote on prohibits cultivation, manufacture of things like edibles and oils, lab testing, and the distribution or sale of anything related to marijuana.
Although three of the five supervisors have voiced support for the ordinance, marijuana advocates say the county may be missing out.
“There are patients in their own county that need cannabis medicine and they need to be able to deliver safe access to those patients,” said Shelby Lucero.
Lucero said her holistic dispensary in Sacramento County shut down in 2012. More than 100 other businesses also saw their doors close at that time.
“We had cannabis as one of our healing modalities,” said Lucero, who now runs BudTracker, a software company for marijuana-related businesses.
But the sheriff’s department says the illegal operations have continued to flourish. They reportedly busted 221 illegal marijuana businesses just last year — in only a portion of South Sacramento. That’s about 100 more than in 2015.
“That doesn’t even touch the tip of the iceberg in terms of the issue out there,” said Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Sgt. Tony Turnbull.
Turnbull says the department is in favor of a marijuana ban, saying legalization and regulation would only make a bad issue worse.
“It’s going to make it more plentiful and cause more issue,” Turnbull explained.
Three of the supervisors support the ban and say it will allow the county to wait and see how other communities handle legalization.
“I think we’re burying our head in the sand,” said Supervisor Patrick Kennedy.
He says regulation would provide more funding for the department to crack down on the illegal businesses.
“We’re already behind the eight ball on this,” said Kennedy, “It’s happening in the neighborhoods now. If we don’t act now, we’re just going to see it grow in a way that is totally irresponsible for the community.”
Marijuana advocates are also concerned the county may miss out on needed funding.
“There are potholes everywhere, libraries and schools are closed,” said Lucero.
Sacramento City imposed a four percent tax on marijuana-related businesses that generated $2.8 million in taxes for the general fund last year. That number is expected to double in 2017.