The Highs and Lows of Medical Marijuana in 2011

(photo: Brandon Darnell)(photo: Brandon Darnell)In 2011, medical marijuana dispensaries in Sacramento city and county went from being barely legal to riding a wave of potential for acceptance – but in the end, saw the future of their operations heavily scrutinized or banned outright..

Here’s what happened on the medical marijuana scene this year:.

In February, medical marijuana dispensaries in the city were lining up to complete a permit application process that would allow a limited number of facilities to operate within city limits.

Pot shops that didn’t apply for the proper permits – or had applications denied through the process – were shut down by city code enforcement..

Once the application deadline passed for the first part of a two-part process, 39 dispensaries were left in the running for a permanent place on the Sacramento scene – while many others withdrew from the city limits to operate within the county, where restrictions were scarce and permits nonexistent..

As the county became aware of the proliferation of dispensaries within its boundaries, county leaders opened the door to regulating medical marijuana..

In August, medical marijuana awareness among the public reached a peak in Sacramento when the inaugural Hempfest Sacramento took place at an RV park and campground in Sutter County..

Despite dispensary operations gaining some favor with the city, dispensaries in the county continued to run afoul of laws that didn’t include any zoning regulations to protect them, and many dispensaries were shut down by the county..

In June, the federal Department of Justice sent a memo to state attorneys general stating that the federal government would enforce its marijuana prohibition laws – despite any state laws to legalize the drug..

In response, the City Council reviewed its permit application process and put a “freeze” on all dispensary applications until it could be determined that dispensaries could somehow operate legally under state law while still being at odds with federal law..

reinforce county codes that prohibit any “activity that violates federal or state law in any way” – essentially solidifying an all-out ban..

Dispensary operators and city residents weighed in on the ordinance freeze in the city, with public opinion being fairly evenly divided between support and opposition of keeping dispensary operations legal..

At the start of the year, medical marijuana dispensaries enjoyed a wide berth from the city to advertise in newspapers and on billboards, and pot shops openly operated throughout the city..

As the year draws to a close, however, many have turned to a more low-key approach to doing business while federal and state governments iron out their legal wrinkles..

– Article originally from Sacramento Press.