County moves to impose marijuana ban

Medicinal marijuana dispensaries in Sunset Beach have until Jan. 7 to move out, as the county plans to begin enforcing a ban approved in November by the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

Debbie Kroner, the manager of public information and communications for OC Public Works, said her office has already started to send out notices to dispensaries in the unincorporated beachside community.

"There is no grace period written into the ordinance, so enforcement can begin as of the effective date in early January — basically, right now is their grace period," Kroner wrote in an e-mail.

Any dispensaries found operating from Jan. 7 on will be fined $1,000 a day, Kroner said.

The exact number of dispensaries in Sunset Beach is hard to determine. Names, addresses and phone numbers are readily available on several websites, which list Cali Genes, Sea & Sand Collective and others. However, some of the numbers are out of service, and it's unclear how many of the dispensaries are still in business.

A Los Angeles Times story in September reported that a dispensary called the West Coast Patients Collective Assn. closed over the summer, and Lt. Adam Powell of the Orange County Sheriff's Department said another, the Green Sunset Collective, shut its doors following a raid by county officials a few months ago.

Kroner, likewise, said she wasn't sure the county had a comprehensive list of marijuana providers.

"The issue is that with the dispensaries, since they come and go, it is not always possible to contact all of them," she said.

According to Kroner, no dispensaries have a permit from the county. Daisy Gaxiola, an office specialist for the county's business license bureau, said dispensaries didn't need business licenses to operate in unincorporated areas.

Sunset is set to be annexed in January by Huntington Beach, which doesn't permit marijuana dispensaries. That transition had previously raised questions among city officials regarding the businesses' fate after annexation, but the county's ruling now gives the dispensaries less than a month to operate legally.

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