Stakes Get Higher for Unregistered Cannabis Growers in SLO County

Author: Whitney Szentesi, Communications Analyst
Date: 5/24/2017 3:45 PM

On May 24, the County began filing formal complaints in court against unregistered cannabis growers in California Valley.

Unregistered commercial cannabis growers in the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County could pay fines of $1,000 per day, County officials say.

The County Board of Supervisors authorized County Counsel on Tuesday, May 23 to begin litigation against individuals and organizations that are knowingly growing cannabis illegally in the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County.

“Hundreds of people followed the law and registered their commercial cannabis operations in the unincorporated areas of the county, but some people are ignoring local laws and could suffer significant consequences,” said Assistant County Administrative Officer Guy Savage. “We will enforce our own laws and this is the first step to doing so.”

Anyone who did not register their cannabis cultivation with the County by Nov. 18, 2016, but continues to grow cannabis for commercial purposes, is violating the County’s urgency ordinance that banned cultivation of cannabis in all unincorporated areas of the county, with certain exceptions. Unless extended, the urgency ordinance is in place until Sept. 19, 2017 or when the Board of Supervisors adopts a permanent ordinance.

“We are currently in the process of drafting permanent regulations, but we have an interim ordinance that is very clear: All cultivators had to register with the County by November of last year. Anyone who didn’t is violating the local law,” Savage said.

County Counsel Rita Neal said the County started by filing complaints against unregistered growers in California Valley, but will focus on other areas as well. The County began filing complaints with the court on May 24, which could result in up to $1,000 fines per day and orders to remove cannabis plants on all property used in cultivation operations. If authorized by the courts, code enforcement officials and Sheriff’s deputies would then be able to use a wood chipper to dispose of the plants on site.

More information on cannabis cultivation in SLO County