A permanent ban on med- ical marijuana dispensaries throughout Merced County will go into effect Jan. 17.
The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to pass an ordinance similar to ones already in effect in Modesto, Merced, Los Banos and other local cities.
There aren't any pot shops in Merced County, but law enforcement officials said the ban was necessary to curb crime, keep property values high and lower demands on police.
Several medical marijuana patients told supervisors the move would push them to buy marijuana on the black market.
California voters passed a proposition legalizing medicinal marijuana in 1996, but several counties, including nearby Stanislaus County, have banned the dispensaries.