Cannabis plants
Cannabis plants.

Temporary Cannabis Cultivation Rules for SLO County Extended

Author: Administrative Office
Date: 8/30/2017 9:16 AM

The County Board of Supervisors extended short-term legislation related to cannabis cultivation while it awaits a draft of permanent regulations.

Cannabis cultivators within the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County must continue to comply with the existing temporary rules governing cannabis cultivation.

The Board of Supervisors extended the urgency ordinance temporarily regulating cannabis cultivation in the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County until Sept. 19, 2018 on Tuesday, Aug. 22. The Board currently awaits the Planning Commission and County staff recommendations on permanent rules regulating the bourgeoning cannabis industry.

“The Board was required to either extend the existing urgency ordinance or allow it to expire by September 19, 2017,” said Assistant County Administrative Officer Guy Savage. “The Board chose the former option, and extended the urgency ordinance.”

The Board also authorized staff on Tuesday to use alternative publication procedures for cannabis ordinances, because of the length of the ordinance. This means that staff will not be required to publish the entire 40+ page ordinance in the local daily newspaper. Instead the County will publish a notice that points interested parties to the website ( or Planning Department office to review the draft ordinance prior to upcoming hearings.

Earlier this month the Planning Commission received an update and heard public comment on the draft cannabis ordinance that, if approved by the Board, will serve as the permanent law regulating the industry for the County. These rules would apply to cannabis cultivation, nurseries, manufacturing, testing, distribution, and dispensary businesses in the unincorporated areas. Incorporated cities are responsible for creating their own regulations.

On Sept. 20, 2016, the Board of Supervisors adopted the urgency ordinance, which banned cannabis cultivation in all unincorporated areas of the county, with certain exceptions. Existing cultivators 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 six plants per person or up to 30 plants for caregivers. By November 18, 2016, 455 cultivators had applied for registration under the urgency ordinance.

After the June 20 Board meeting, a public information session was held at the County Planning Commission on July 27.  On August 10, 2017, the Planning Commission began a hearing on the latest land use ordinance draft.  The hearing was extended to September 14, 2017.

On July 25, the Board of Supervisors provided direction related to fees and tax structure for cannabis sales within the unincorporated areas.

The County of San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors began discussions of cannabis regulations in December 2015. Up until that time the County had no land use regulations for cannabis activities other than for medical marijuana dispensaries in the inland areas of the County. The County has a permissive zoning ordinance that lists all uses that are permitted within the County; anything that is not specifically listed is prohibited by default. Therefore, commercial cannabis activities are prohibited in County jurisdiction beyond those activities afforded by state law.