Orange County takes a step toward banning pot sales and distribution in unincorporated areas

Orange County moves to ban marijuana sales and distribution
(Brennan Linsley / Associated Press )

The Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to an ordinance banning marijuana sales, distribution and cultivation in unincorporated parts of the county.

Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson cast the lone dissenting vote. He argued the board was ignoring the will of the voters, who approved the decriminalization of marijuana last year with Proposition 64.

The new state law, which takes effect Jan. 1, allows for the recreational use of marijuana for residents 21 and older and the cultivation of up to six plants.


The Legislature approved a law this year allowing cities and counties to approve bans, preventing the issuing of licenses in those areas.

“Every one of our districts voted in favor of Proposition 64,’’ Nelson said. “That should mean something.’’

Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said she spoke with some elected officials in Colorado, where marijuana was legalized, and reported they had regrets since then.

“It’s true no one’s ever died of a [marijuana] overdose, but [emergency room] visits skyrocketed there,’’ she said, adding many children were hospitalized after finding edible marijuana and consuming it.

Supervisor Todd Spitzer argued that the county was only adopting what all but just two cities in the county have approved. Costa Mesa is allowing for medical marijuana research and development, and Santa Ana will allow for production of marijuana in 20 spots in the city.

Seal Beach and Lake Forest have not decided whether to enact a ban.