Grover Beach's marijuana industry is on the verge of its debut, but the city is already mulling changes to how it plans to regulate the industry.
At an April 2 meeting, the City Council discussed a number of possible changes to its newly minted marijuana industry, including amending its permitting ordinance to include adult recreational use. The topic was part of an hours-long discussion on multiple cannabis-related issues and occurred as Grover Beach jockeys to remain competitive with other cities in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties passing their own ordinances to court the potentially lucrative pot industry.
While the council did not take any formal votes, it did direct staff to move forward with crafting an amended ordinance that allows cannabis businesses to sell, manufacture, or distribute products for adult recreational use. The council's initial ordinances, developed before the passage of Proposition 64, only allow for medicinal cannabis businesses, including brick-and-mortar dispensaries.
"I'm confident moving forward with modifying the ordinance for adult use," said Mayor John Shoals. "I'm confident we can make that jump."
Grover Beach isn't the only local municipality to set its sights on allowing recreational marijuana businesses within its borders. San Luis Obispo is set to pass a marijuana ordinance in May that will include adult recreational use.
"It just seems like the wave of the future," Grover Beach City Councilmember Mariam Shah said. "I want to stay competitive in this market."
Councilmember Barbara Harmon raised concerns about allowing recreational cannabis businesses to begin operating so soon, and she wanted the city to wait and see how its current medical-only structure worked out.
"I'm not excited about it," she said. "I'm not a 'keeping up with the Joneses' or 'getting ahead of the Joneses' person."
It will take time before the city's four dispensaries, two of which are slated to open in the next two months, could begin to sell marijuana to adults without a medical card. City Manager Matthew Bronson indicated that June would be the earliest an amended ordinance could come before the council for a final vote. Once passed, it would take another 30 days to go into effect.
"We'd be looking at a few months before they could begin legally operating for adult use," Bronson said.