Cannabis Land Use Ordinance

PLEASE NOTE: the Proposed Ordinance applies to the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County. If you reside within the boundaries of a city, please contact that city for their regulations regarding cannabis.

Project Contacts

Questions regarding specifics of the ordinance can be directed to Brandi Cummings via e-mail (bcummings@co.slo.ca.us). 

General questions, or questions about specific properties can be directed to the Planning Information / Front Counter at (805) 781-5600.

Project Milestones

The following milestones represent selected steps in the process to establish permanent cannabis land use regulations. Please note that all dates are tentative and may be revised as needed.

Milestone Dates

Public Review Drafts

One or more drafts of the Proposed Ordinance were prepared by Department of Planning & Building staff and made available for public review and comment.

Date Completed: 08/09/2017

Public Hearing Draft

A public hearing draft of the Proposed Ordinance was prepared by Department of Planning & Building staff. This draft was made available 10-14 days before the first Planning Commission hearing date on August 10, 2017.

Date Completed: 08/10/2017

Planning Commission Recommendation

The Planning Commission reviewed the public hearing draft of the Proposed Ordinance on August 10, 2017 and September 14, 2017. The County Planning Commission discussed and decided on recommended regulations for the local cannabis industry.  The Commission’s recommendation will go before the Board of Supervisors for consideration and potential adoption.

Date Completed: 09/14/2017

Board of Supervisors Adoption

The Board of Supervisors reviewed the Planning Commision Recommendation Draft of the Proposed Ordinance and adopted a final ordinance, establishing permanent cannabis land use regulations in the unincorporated County.

Date Completed: 11/27/2017

Inland Ordinance Effective Date

The Inland Ordinance (Title 22) will become effective on December 31, 2017. No inland land use applications will be accepted until after the Inland Ordinance is effective.

Estimated Date of Completion: 12/31/2017

Coastal Zone Ordinance Effective Date

The Coastal Zone Ordinance (Title 23) will not become effective until the California Coastal Commission certifies it. After the Board of Supervisors adopts a final ordinance, the proposed language is sent to the Coastal Commission. The Coastal Commission can add to, delete, or revise any part of the final ordinance adopted by the Board. No coastal land use applications will be accepted until the Coastal Zone Ordinance is effective. The Coastal Commission certification process can range from a couple of months to over a year.

Estimated Date of Completion: 07/01/2018

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the current County regulations regarding cannabis?

The Board of Supervisors reviewed the Planning Commision Recommendation Draft of the Proposed Ordinance and adopted a final ordinance, establishing permanent cannabis land use regulations in the unincorporated County.

Click here to view the inland ordinance.

Click here to view the coastal zone ordinance.

Click here to view a summary table of which cannabis activities are allowed in each land use category.

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.

I was unsuccessful during the registration process and my registration was denied. Can I appeal that decision?

No. There is no appeal process for those who missed the registration deadline or who did not meet the requirements necessary to successfully register their grows. Cultivators in either of these situations will have to wait until the urgency ordinance is no longer in place and new processes are implemented under a permanent ordinance or register under one of the 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.

I live in a residentially zoned area. Will I be able to continue commercially cultivating cannabis under the permanent ordinance?

Probably not. Based on the current Board of Supervisors direction, commercial cannabis cultivation is not allowed in most residential zones. Some cultivation and nursery activities are allowed in Residential Rural.

What does the passing of Proposition 64 mean?

Personal recreational use: Adults 21 years or above will be able to use recreational cannabis within a private residence and grow cannabis (up to 6 plants) for personal use immediately. 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.

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

Yes. A land use permit is required for all cultivation, processing, testing, distribution, 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.

Do mobile delivery dispensaries need a permit or license?

Yes. 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 delivery dispensaries operating within the County are subject to the Medical Cannabis Dispensary Ordinance and are required to obtain a minor use permit. Mobile delivery dispensaries operating from another jurisdiction are allowed to deliver within the County. Mobile delivery dispensaries will also require a state license. In addition, a business license may be required.

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 Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis Safety Regulation Act (MAUCRSA), 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 MAUCRSA 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.

MAUCRSA and AUMA (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.

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. MAUCRSA AND AUMA (Proposition 64) prohibit 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.

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 delivery dispensaries operating within the County are subject to the Medical Cannabis Dispensary Ordinance and are required to obtain a minor use permit. Mobile delivery dispensaries operating from another jurisdiction are allowed to deliver within the County.

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.