County of Marin - News Releases - Nonmedical Cannabis Ordinance

For Immediate Release
January 26, 2017

County to Consider Ban on Nonmedical Cannabis

Merit hearing scheduled for February 7 at Board of Supervisors meeting

San Rafael, CA – With the state licensing of recreational cannabis businesses less than a year away in California, the Marin County Board of Supervisors will consider a proposed ban on nonmedical cannabis business activities in unincorporated areas of Marin during its next two meetings.

California voters passed Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, in November 2016. It allows for the sale, regulation, taxation, growth and transportation of cannabis for recreational use after January 1, 2018. The state is mandated to issue licenses after that date.

However, after an extensive review of the new law, the County of Marin’s Community Development Agency (CDA) is recommending a ban to give the County time to consider implications of potentially authorizing it before state licenses can be granted and to learn from the licensing program for medical cannabis dispensaries that is currently underway.

“Given the uncertainty as to what guidelines the state may establish to implement Proposition 64, a ban preserves our ability to have local control,” said Tom Lai, CDA Assistant Director. “Our priority is to consider potential locations and licenses for medical cannabis dispensaries.”

The Board will hear the first reading of the draft ordinance at 1:30 p.m. January 31 in at the Marin County Civic Center’s Board chamber, Suite 330, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael. Staff recommends that the Board schedule a merit hearing for 1:30 p.m. February 7, also in the Board chamber.

The proposed ordinance is presented at a time when three public meetings are scheduled in the coming weeks for Marin residents to learn more about proposed medical cannabis dispensaries – a separate issue from adult-use. The County expects to make a decision about licensing and operation of medical cannabis dispensaries sometime this spring. If the Board bans nonmedical cannabis businesses, residents living near a licensed medical cannabis dispensary would be assured that such a business would remain for medical purposes only.

Although cannabis is considered an illegal drug by the federal government, Proposition 215 has since 1996 ensured 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. 

Learn more about the County’s cannabis programs at   


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