Enforcement of Cannabis Laws
The County enforces cannabis regulations and laws in a variety of ways, which include providing for additional staff in the Agricultural Commissioner's Office, County Counsel, Planning and Building, and Sheriff's office.
Pesticide Use Enforcement
The Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures conducts a comprehensive program in pesticide use enforcement to protect the health and safety of workers, the public, and the environment. Pesticides are registered and regulated by federal and state government codes, with the County Agricultural Commissioner being the primary local regulator. Nine staff members will be trained in FY 2017-18 for enforcement activities specific to pesticide use associated with cannabis production.
Court Orders and Fines
The County Counsel's office represents the County in legal proceedings and in May 2017 began filing formal complaints in court against known unregistered cannabis growers in California Valley. Illegal growers could pay up to $1,000 fines per day and may be ordered to remove cannabis plants on all property used in cultivation operations. If authorized by the courts, County code enforcement officials and Sheriff’s deputies would then be able to use a wood chipper to dispose of the plants on site.
The Code Enforcement Unit of the County's Department of Planning and Building is responsible for enforcing land use and local environmental laws in the unincorporated areas of the County of San Luis Obispo. This includes land-use laws, or zoning laws, which includes regulation on storage, parking, construction, substandard and dangerous structures, mining, resource removal, signs, area standards and noise. All registered cannabis cultivations will be inspected on a quarterly basis for code compliance.
The Sheriff's Office has additional deputies who spend a good portion of their time enforcing laws related to cannabis and investigating non-compliant, illegal cannabis cultivation. Calls for law enforcement service in California Valley, where the majority of the large-scale grows were occurring, increased from 76 in 2014 to 181 by October 2016. The Sheriff's Office collaborates with other County departments as part of a cannabis compliance team to handle the impacts from his new and evolving industry and the changes brought on by the passage of Proposition 64. Two full-time Sheriff's deputies assist County Counsel in the investigations and prosecution of non-compliant, illegal cannabis cultivation. The Sheriff's Office will also ensure that laws related to preventing driving under the influence of cannabis as well as under aged use of cannabis.
Health Agency's DUI Program
The Behavioral Health Department of the County's Health Agency has a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) program that provides education, group counseling and individual counseling sessions to individuals convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. In FY 2017-18, it plans to update its program curriculum to address cannabis effects on driving abilities.