SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors are paving the way for the sale of recreational marijuana.
The board says they are on track for recreational marijuana to start being sold starting in January of 2018.
Now that the board has approved the sale at already licensed dispensaries in the county, regulations, taxes and environmental impact are now the main topics of discussion.
"They can start selling on January 1st in compliance with the state law, what the voters approved last election," says Santa Cruz County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty.
This week's approval of recreational marijuana sales means its time to work out the details on cultivation, although the county is moving forward they say there are still many things to take into consideration.
"We still are going through a major process to decide when and where we're going to allow commercial cultivation and manufacturing to occur in our county. We are going through and environmental impact report and any citizen can comment on that report," says Coonerty.
Aside from that, taxes were also a big part of the discussion this week. The board set a proposed tax rate at 7 percent for dispensing and 5 percent for manufacturing marijuana.
Christopher Carr with the Kind Peoples Collective dispensary says driving taxes up would drive people away from legally buying marijuana.
"It's through high taxes and these kind of barriers to the market that people choose black market over compliance and Kind Peoples wants to be a beacon of light in a new era."
The Board of Supervisors says the money from these taxes will go to projects throughout the county. Carr says if this money is being used for the community, the community should be part of the process of making the regulations.
Carr says Kind Peoples will comply with any laws and regulations set by the county because, "we have a true desire to pioneer a new era of cannabis stewardship." and also says that starts with reasonable regulations.
For now, the recreational sales will only be allowed for current dispensaries. But that could change over time.
"Going forward we may at some point look into expanding that, but we want to take a wait and see approach and see how it plays out in other states and around California," says Coonerty.
As for the environmental impact report, that is open for public comment until October 31st. The Board will then take all concerns or comments into consideration.