Draft Cannabis 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

Comments and questions regarding the proposed ordinance may be submitted via email to Brandi Cummings or mailed to the following address:

Department of Planning & Building
ATTN: Cannabis Ordinance/Brandi Cummings
976 Osos Street, Room 300
San Luis Obispo, CA 93408

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 will be prepared by Department of Planning & Building staff and made available for public review and comment.

Estimated Date of Completion: 06/21/2017

Public Hearing Draft

A public hearing draft of the Proposed Ordinance will be prepared by Department of Planning & Building staff. This draft will be available 10-14 days before the first Planning Commission hearing date.

Estimated Date of Completion: 07/13/2017

Planning Commission Recommendation

The Planning Commission will review the public hearing draft of the Proposed Ordinance and provide a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, including any proposed modifications to the Proposed Ordinance.

The Planning Commission is tentatively scheduled to consider the Proposed Ordinance on July 27, 2017, and if necessary, August 10, 2017.

Estimated Date of Completion: 08/10/2017

Board of Supervisors Adoption

The Board of Supervisors will review the public hearing draft of the Proposed Ordinance along with any modifications recommended by the Planning Commission and adopt a final ordinance, establishing permanent cannabis land use regulations.

The Board of Supervisors is tentatively scheduled to consider the Proposed Ordinance on October 3, 2017.

Estimated Date of Completion: 10/03/2017

Inland Ordinance Effective Date

The Inland Ordinance (Title 22) will become effective 30 days after the Board of Supervisors adopts a final ordinance. Staff anticipates the Inland Ordinance will become effective until November. No inland land use applications will be accepted until the Inland Ordinance is effective.

Estimated Date of Completion: 11/02/2017

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: 11/01/2018

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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 will likely not be allowed in most residential zones.

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. 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.

Do mobile 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 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. Mobile 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 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.

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. AUMA (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.

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.

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.