San Mateo supes move to slow pot sales

A moratorium on the sale and cultivation of recreational marijuana is being sought by San Mateo County supervisors to study the implications of recreational use, county officials said.

Supervisors made the decision Tuesday at a study session of the new state law.

The supervisors asked county counsel John Beiers to bring an urgency ordinance to the supervisors at their Dec. 13 meeting. County staff members will also bring a proposal for a regional working group involving city officials within the county.

Though the state is unlikely to issue licenses for growers and retailers until Jan. 1, 2018, supervisors are pushing for the moratorium to take a slow, deliberate approach to implementing the new law, county officials said.

County spokeswoman Michelle Durand said:

“The voters have spoken. … Now it’s our turn to put it into motion some way.”

Durand said the new law has positive and negative implications.

Agricultural commissioner Fred Crowder said that sales of marijuana could reach $100 million annually. Durand said the tax rate on marijuana sales could be set at 34.5 percent, bringing $34.5 million in tax revenue to the county.

But some of that money may have to be used for regulations of the industry, prompting inspections and enforcement of the laws and rules for safe use.

California voters approved the use of recreational marijuana on Nov. 8.

The current county regulations on marijuana use date back to 2009.

Those rules govern the distribution of medical marijuana even though no collectives are selling it in the county’s jurisdiction and county workers have never issued a license for it.

Several cities including Foster City, Burlingame, San Bruno and San Mateo have already passed moratoriums.

County officials said it may be best to work with cities in the county to create regulations to avoid a patchwork of rules.

Unlike medical marijuana growers and retailers, recreational marijuana growers and retailers will be able to get a state license without getting a local license.

If the supervisors adopt an ordinance before the state issues licenses, they may be able to control how marijuana is sold and cultivated in the county. But county officials may want to wait until state officials establish state regulations before establishing county regulations.

Durand said at Tuesday’s meeting one flower grower said selling marijuana may be the difference between staying in business or not.