Cannabis plants.
Cannabis plants.

County Takes One Step Closer to Permanent Legislation on Cannabis

Author: Department of Planning & Building
Date: Friday, September 15, 2017 4:56 PM

The County Planning Commission discussed and decided on recommended regulations for the local cannabis industry.


The Planning Commission met on September 14, 2017 (continued from August 10, 2017) to discuss the draft cannabis land use regulations. The Commission’s recommendation­ will go before the Board of Supervisors on October 3, 2017 for consideration and potential adoption. The following are some of the main revisions the Commission made to the Public Hearing Draft Ordinances.

  • Cultivation Limit. The Commission voted 3-2 to impose no limit on the number of indoor cultivation operations and to impose a limit of 50 on the number of outdoor cultivation operations.
  • Cannabis Cultivation Operations Per Site. The Commission voted to limit the number of outdoor cannabis cultivation operations per site to five. They did not propose to limit the number of indoor cannabis cultivation operations per site.
  • Transfer of Cultivation Land Use Permits. The Commission unanimously voted to remove the provision that would have voided cultivation land use permits if the property or operation was sold or transferred. This would allow cultivation land use permits to run with the land, similar to other land use permits.
  • Renewable Energy Requirement. The Commission voted unanimously to remove the language that would have required a renewable energy offset beyond the State’s requirements.
  • Water Offsets. The Commission voted unanimously to require a 1:1 offset for cannabis cultivation and nurseries in areas with a Groundwater Basin at Level of Severity III (2:1 offset in Area of Severe Decline), unless a higher offset is required by CEQA review through the land use permit process.
  • Personal Cultivation. The Commission voted unanimously to revise the personal (exempt) cultivation language to allow six cannabis plants indoors per dwelling unit (instead of per site) to accommodate multi-family dwellings like duplexes or apartments. Additionally, the Commission voted to allow only six plants outdoors per site, meaning only one person in an apartment building or duplex would be able to have an outdoor grow; the other would be required to be indoor.
  • Volatile Manufacturing. The Commission voted 4-1 to allow volatile manufacturing within the Industrial land use category and with Conditional Use Permit approval.
  • Dispensaries. The Commission voted unanimously to require dispensaries that are open to the public be located 1,000 feet away from certain uses, which includes the following: pre-school, elementary school, junior high school, high school, library, park, playground, recreation or youth center, licensed drug or alcohol recovery facility, or licensed sober living facility. The Commission also voted 4-1 to require dispensaries that are open to the public not be located within 300 feet of stores marketed towards minors, and not be in the same structure or adjacent to liquor or tobacco stores.
  • Cleanup. The Commission voted unanimously to adopt the cleanup language proposed by staff to correct errors, omissions, and ensure consistency between the inland and coastal versions of the ordinance. The cleanup language includes renumbering after adopted changes are incorporated. As part of the cleanup language the Commission voted unanimously to revise the definition for cannabis distribution to make it relevant only for distribution facilities (A distribution license will be needed from the State to transport cannabis, even if you do not have a distribution warehouse facility).

The draft cannabis ordinance affects two areas of the County Government Code: the inland ordinance and the coastal zone ordinance. If the Board adopts the inland ordinance changes on Oct. 3, those rules could go into effect as early as 30 days later and will then replace the temporary rules currently in place. Any cannabis business registered under the current ordinance must re-register when the new rules take effect. No inland land use applications will be accepted until the inland ordinance is effective.

However, if the Board adopts the Coastal Zone Ordinance changes on Oct. 3, the California Coastal Commission must review and certify those changes before they take effect. No coastal land use applications will be accepted until the coastal zone ordinance is effective.

The Board of Supervisors will consider the Planning Commission’s Recommended Ordinances on October 3, 2017.  A staff report will be available approximately one week in advance of the Board of Supervisor hearing. For questions, please contact the Project Manager, Brandi Cummings at (805)781-1006, bcummings@co.slo.ca.us.

Read the staff report.

View the Planning Commission agenda item attachments

Watch or listen to the discussion