Marin County, home of the Grateful Dead, still has no retail marijuana store; but that might change

Fairfax may become Marin County's first municipality with a brick-and-mortar pot store. 

On Wednesday evening, the Town Council heard public comment as it moves toward a local ordinance and permitting process. 

Marin County, where voters chose legal marijuana by a two to one vote, still has no retail store for recreational adult use cannabis. 

One by one, local municipalities adopted moratoriums, then moved toward stringent guidelines that allow only delivery services, not storefronts. 

"Here in Marin, we are advertised as the liberal bastion of the nation, but we're not," said Lew Tremaine, General Manager of Marin Alliance in Fairfax. "There's a serious 'not in my backyard' attitude here."

Marin Alliance is one of the nation's first marijuana dispensaries, established shortly after Californians passed Proposition 215 in 1996, allowing the use of medical cannabis. 

It remains in the same Fairfax location where it started, and hopes to expand under proposed changes. 
For the time being, it is restricted to medicinal sales only.

"The only reason we're still here is we're grandfathered in," explained Tremaine, " and people are shocked to walk in and find we're medical only, and they say 'where can I go?'" 

Marin has cannabis delivery services only, four in San Rafael, and one in Fairfax. 

For a walk-up store, the closest  locations are in San Francisco or Berkeley, both a bridge away, or north to Sonoma County. 

"Go to Cotati and stand in line with 30 people," fumed Fairfax native Nancy Hybarger, "and it's ridiculous, we voted for it, I'm for it,, bring it to my town." 

Wednesday, Hybarger and others were enjoying the first night of the downtown Farmers Market.  
Many people expressed surprise that a town known for its embrace of all things counter-culture would have a problem with pot. 

"You'd think Fairfax, you know rock stars, Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia, all them," smiled Jon Bindloss, a downtown business owner, "so why isn't it legal here ?"

But in more than a dozen public workshops and meetings, residents have expressed concerns about safety, proximity to schools, and drug abuse among young people."

"It is basically telling the citizens as a whole that it's an accepted product, and that it is okay," one teenager told the council members. 

Countered another speaker: "This is the right way to do this. and we should let it proceed." 

Fairfax is poised to allow at least two cannabis stores- with conditions.   

A vote is likely this summer, as jurisdictions are required to life their moratoriums and enact local guidelines by the end of October. 

Fairfax native Brian Ahern, bartending at Nave's Bar and Grill, said most of his customers take a tolerant view of marijuana.  

"We're one of the last towns in Marin that has tried to stay it's way, not go like Sausalito or Mill Valley," said Ahern, "we're free and open-spirited and open-minded."

Farifax voters approved Proposition 64, the Adult Use Initiative, by an overwhelming margin: 77 percent. 

"The council says they understand what the vote was, but they're not quick to act on it," said Tremaine.