The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors and the county’s Marijuana Working Group will meet Tuesday to hear from consultants hired to facilitate talks about whether to allow and regulate cannabis-related enterprises.

“This has the potential to be a very important turning point,” said Kira Tucker, executive director of the Tuolumne Cannabis Alliance and member of the county’s Marijuana Working Group.

According to the notes for the 1:30 p.m. workshop, SCI Consulting Group will give a presentation on marijuana regulations with an emphasis on commercial activity.

California voters approved Proposition 64 in November that legalized cannabis for recreational use by people 21 and over. The new law, known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, also opened the door for retail sales and commercial cultivation of the drug under a state licensing program to begin Jan. 1, 2018.

The law allows cities and counties to create more stringent regulations on the cannabis industry, or ban it all together. However, they can’t outlaw personal possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and personal cultivation of up to six plants for people 21 and over.

Both the county and City of Sonora have bans in place against cannabis businesses, such as dispensaries, manufacturing plants, and commercial grows.

In early 2016, the board approved an ordinance allowing people with a valid doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana to grow up to 12 plants outdoors or 24 plants indoors within a 50-square-foot area.

The board appointed its Marijuana Working Group earlier this year to look at harmonizing the county’s ordinance on growing medical marijuana with the state’s new law on recreational marijuana.

Cannabis advocates have urged the board to shift the focus of the group’s work to commercial regulations before the state begins issuing licenses.

“If you can’t even get licensing discussed in these meetings, you certainly can’t get licensing provided,” Tucker said. “We’ve been banging on this drum for well over a year and we’re happy to see that (county) staff is pushing for a change in direction, too.”

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board is scheduled to consider awarding a $241,040 contract to Lionakis Architects for planning and design of a proposed community center that would be constructed with money from the $70 million federal grant through the National Disaster Resilience Competition.

The idea behind the center would be to provide a place where people could go in the event of disaster, as well as host other community activities the rest of the time.

The proposed contract was sent to more than 40 architectural firms and 12 responded with proposals that were reviewed by a committee of county officials and consultants. The four top firms were interviewed and Lionakis was selected as the top candidate.

Lionakis was also the contractor selected to do the designs on a $20 million new county jail and $65 million county superior courthouse, the latter of which is being funded by the state, that will be located at the Law and Justice Center campus off Old Wards Ferry Road in Sonora.

In addition, the board will consider appointing Calaveras County Health Officer Dr. Dean Kelaita at Tuesday’s meeting to the position of interim health officer for Tuolumne County after current County Health Officer Dr. Liza Ortiz leaves on Aug. 31.

The board’s regular meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday. The meeting and workshop will be held in the board’s chambers on the fourth floor of the County Administration Center, at 2 S. Green St. in Sonora.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.

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