Cannabis in SLO County

cannabis plants

Project Contacts

For general information: Assistant County Administrative Officer Guy Savage, (805) 781-5011

For land-use information: County Planner Brandi Cummings, (805) 781-5600 

For business licensing: Principal Financial Analyst Justin Cooley, (805) 781-5040 

For agriculture resources, pest management, pesticide use information and weights & measures: Deputy Agricultural Commissioner Marc Lea, (805) 781-5910

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I sell homegrown cannabis plants or products to others?

No. Proposition 64 does not allow the sale of homegrown cannabis, whether whole plant, clippings, clones, or any product derived from any part of the plant.

Can I smoke or consume cannabis in public places?

No. The Adult Use of Marijuana Act of 2016 (AUMA), AKA Proposition 64, prohibits smoking or consumption of medical and recreational cannabis in public places or in places where smoking tobacco is prohibited, which includes but is not limited to hallways and lobbies of apartment buildings and hotels, on the street, in schools, amusement parks, public parks and places of business usually open to the general public. Additionally, consumption or smoking of cannabis is prohibited within 1,000 feet of a school or youth area while children present, except on private residential property provided smoking is not detectable by children.

Do I need a state license to grow cannabis for personal use?

No. However, until permanent cannabis land use regulations are established, all personal cultivation is required to registered with the Planning & Building Department.

Under the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA), qualified patients are exempt from the state license program if cultivating less than 100 square feet for personal medical use. Primary caregivers with five or fewer patients are allowed up to 500 square feet (up to 30 plants). An exemption under MCRSA does not prevent a local government from further restricting or banning the cultivation, provision, etc. of medical cannabis by individual patients or caregivers in accordance with its constitutional police powers under Section 7, Article XI of the CA Constitution.

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), AKA Proposition 64, allows individuals to grow cannabis for personal non-medical use (up to six plants per residence) without a state license. Only six plants are allowed to be grown per residence. All plants and harvested cannabis in excess of one (1) ounce must be kept within the person’s private residence, in a locked space, that is not visible from a public place.

How much cannabis can I buy for recreation use?

When retail sales have been approved, under Proposition 64, adults 21 years and older can possess, transport, or purchase up to one (1) ounce of cannabis and up to eight (8) grams of cannabis concentrates. The state does not anticipate accepting applications for recreational licenses until January 2018.

What am I legally allowed to do with cannabis in California?

Personal recreational use: Adults 21 years or above are currently able to use recreational cannabis within a private residence and grow cannabis (up to 6 plants) for personal use. Cannabis use is still prohibited in public and areas where smoking tobaccos is prohibited.

Commercial recreational cannabis cultivation, manufacturing or sales operations: Commercial cannabis activities require a license from the State Bureau of Cannabis Control, which is planning to accept applications beginning January 1, 2018. A license from the State is required before any commercial recreational cultivation, manufacturing, or sales are allowed.

What are the current County regulations regarding cannabis?

Cannabis cultivation is currently prohibited in the County. On Sept. 20, 2016, the County of San Luis Obispo adopted an Urgency Ordinance that established a moratorium on the cultivation of cannabis (marijuana) in all unincorporated areas of the county, with certain exceptions. Existing growers were allowed to continue growing for the duration of the Urgency Ordinance, provided they registered with the County by November 18, 2016. New grows are limited to 6 plants per person or up to 30 plants for caregivers.

Cannabis manufacturing and processing are currently prohibited in the County under the County’s permissive zoning ordinance.

Cannabis dispensaries are currently provisionally permitted in the inland portions of the County only. The County’s existing Medical Cannabis Dispensary Ordinance allows for dispensaries to be established and operate for medical cannabis sales only. A Minor Use Permit must be obtained prior to establishing or operating a dispensary. Dispensaries for recreational use are currently prohibited. Mobile dispensaries operating within the County are subject to the Medical Cannabis Dispensary Ordinance and are required to obtain a minor use permit. Mobile dispensaries operating from another jurisdiction are allowed to deliver within the County.

What if I missed the registration deadline?

All existing non-conforming grows were required to register by November 18, 2016. New grows may still register provided that meet all the requirements under Section 5B (indoor) and Section 5C (outdoor) exemptions of the Urgency Ordinance. These new grows are limited to 6 plants and 100 square-feet for personal grows, or 30 plants and 500 square-feet for caregiver grows.

Please read our registration handout for more information regarding cannabis registration under the urgency ordinance.

Where can I buy cannabis in SLO County?

Currently, there are no permitted dispensaries in the unincorporated areas of the County. The County’s existing Medical Cannabis Dispensary Ordinance allows for dispensaries to be established and operate for medical cannabis sales only. A minor use permit must be obtained prior to establishing or operating a dispensary. Dispensaries for recreational use are currently prohibited. Mobile dispensaries operating within the County are subject to the Medical Cannabis Dispensary Ordinance and are required to obtain a minor use permit. Mobile dispensaries operating from another jurisdiction are allowed to deliver within the County.

Will a permit or license be required to grow, sell, or process cannabis?

Yes. The County is in the process of drafting permanent cannabis land use regulations, which will require a permit for all cultivation, processing, and sales. State licenses are also required for all cannabis activities, both medical and recreational. In addition, some activities may require a business license, pesticide permit, Health Department clearance, or clearance from the Regional Water Quality Control Board.