Cannabis plants found at an illegal cultivation site.

County Seeks Public Input on Proposed Cannabis Regulations

Author: Administrative Office
Date: 3/1/2017 4:19 PM

The public can now review and provide feedback on a proposed land use ordinance regulating the cultivation, manufacturing, transportation, and distribution of both medical and non-medical cannabis in the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County. 

On Tuesday, February 28, the County Board of Supervisors received an update on the proposed regulations and began the process of accepting public comment.

County staff is coordinating outreach efforts and will hold the following public meetings to receive direct input from the community:

  • April 5, 2017 – Paso Robles, Department of Social Services (406 Spring Street)
  • April 6, 2017 – San Luis Obispo, Board of Supervisors Chambers (1055 Monterey)
  • April 12, 2017 – Nipomo, Nipomo Community Services District (148 S. Wilson)

All meetings will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

“Public input is vital during this initial phase of developing permanent rules around commercial cannabis in the unincorporated areas of SLO County,” said Assistant County Administrative Officer Guy Savage. “We hope people will read the proposed regulations and provide us with meaningful feedback to help us address the current and anticipated impacts of cannabis on our local community.  What we heard at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting were clear concerns about limitations on the number of commercial cultivation licenses included in the draft ordinance, as well as concerns about setback distances intended to address odor and smell issues.”

The County will conduct an environmental review and tribal consultation, per State laws. County officials anticipate that the County Planning Commission will hear the proposed regulations in late June or July, and that the amendments and Planning Commission recommendations will return to the Board of Supervisors in late August or September for action. All comments and consultation will be taken into consideration while staff prepares the final version.

In the past three years, cannabis cultivation has been a concern for the County as California voters have legalized medical and non-medical cannabis. Last year, the County Board of Supervisors directed staff to develop permanent regulations that would address public health, safety, and environmental issues related to cannabis activities in unincorporated areas.

The Board previously directed staff to use Monterey County’s ordinance as a guide and to retain consultant assistance to prepare the ordinance.

While staff worked on the permanent rules, the Board adopted an urgency ordinance in September 2016 to temporarily stop the proliferation of cannabis cultivation in unincorporated areas of the county, while still providing individuals with medical needs access to medical cannabis. This temporary regulation required all cannabis cultivators in all unincorporated areas register with the County Planning and Building Department. As a result, more than 400 growers registered with the County by the 2016 deadline set forth in the urgency ordinance.

The County also expects to implement regulatory ordinances that describe and control the processes for obtaining business licenses and permits for commercial cannabis operations.  County staff expect the regulatory ordinances to come before the Board of Supervisors late this summer. 

Additionally, the County will be considering whether to place a cannabis related taxation measure on the June 2018 ballot. There has been no determination on a taxation approach and the Board is expected to discuss potential approaches later this year.