Kings County supervisors voted Tuesday to tighten medical pot restrictions by banning mobile dispensaries and delivery services.

In 2011, the county banned brick-and-mortar marijuana dispensaries, an action which shut down two dispensaries located on East Lacey Boulevard.

It is illegal in Kings to grow pot of any kind, for any reason, outdoors.

Tuesday’s unanimous vote signified the tough stance Kings and other San Joaquin Valley counties have taken toward marijuana after hearing from local law enforcement officials who say medical pot is being used as a loophole to engage in criminal activity.

“Marijuana continues to be a problem here in Kings County,” Sheriff Dave Robinson testified on Tuesday.

Many counties in the region, including Kings, have been updating their anti-marijuana ordinances to beat a March 1 deadline. That’s when the state assumes regulatory authority over medical marijuana cultivation and distribution.

If Kings didn’t expressly prohibit mobile dispensaries and delivery services, then those dispensaries and services would be able to operate in the county after March 1, according to Deputy Kings County Counsel Erik Kaeding.

For supporters of marijuana statewide, the tougher local rules are reinforcing their drive to legalize recreational marijuana use in California. Legalization would essentially overturn local anti-medical-marijuana ordinances.

“If the state came in here and said, ‘You have to allow it,’ we’d be stuck with that,” Kaeding said in an interview.

Supporters are gathering signatures to put an initiative on the November 2016 ballot that would legalize pot in California and give the state the power to tax pot sales.

The last time cannabis advocates tried was in 2010, when a legalization initiative fell short, getting 46.5 percent of the vote.

The push for legalization has been on since 2000, according to Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

“We’re into our 15th year of having medical marijuana as a secondary concern ... with legalization being the primary [concern],” he said.

St. Pierre said California supporters are encouraged by the fact that voters in Alaska, Colorado, Washington and Oregon have already legalized weed.

He said that a number of states are likely to vote on pro-marijuana ballot propositions this year.

He said the odds in California have improved since 2010.

“The change in the [political] environment gets better and better,” St. Pierre said.

The reporter can be reached at snidever@hanfordsentinel.com or 583-2432. Follow him on Twitter @snidever.

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