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Grover Beach to ban medical marijuana cultivation

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The city of Grover Beach is planning to follow in the footsteps of several other SLO County municipalities and move to ban the cultivation of medical marijuana.

Members of the City Council discussed the issue at a Dec. 21 meeting and directed staff to develop an ordinance that would ban cultivation within the city. Currently, the city has no ordinance related to medical cannabis growing, according to City Manager Robert Perrault.

Perrault said the council also directed staff to include an exemption in the ordinance for medical marijuana cultivated for personal use by patients under California’s Compassionate Use Act. The neighboring Pismo Beach City Council considered a similar exception earlier this month, but the council opted to move toward a total ban instead.

According to a staff report, the Grover Beach ordinance will be introduced for a first reading Jan. 4, then adopted after a second reading Jan. 19. 

The speedy timeline for passing the ordinance is necessary to head off new medical marijuana legislation at the state level. The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October is a package of bills that established a detailed regulatory framework for medical marijuana in the state. Under the act, cities can still retain local control over medical marijuana but must pass specific laws related to cultivation before March 1. Cities that don’t pass ordinances risk ceding control over cultivation to the state ordinances. 

Other cities looking to pass full or partial cultivation bans include Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach, and the city of SLO.

While Grover Beach did not have a cultivation ordinance already on the books, it does currently ban medical marijuana retail locations, usually referred to as dispensaries. The cultivation ordinance will not impact the dispensary ban, Perrault said.

The city also has no ban on mobile medical marijuana delivery services. While the council did discuss the topic at the meeting, Perrault said staff wasn’t directed to draw up any immediate ordinance on the issue. However, the council will likely revisit it and other issues related to medical marijuana in 2016.

“They expressed it very strongly, and directed the staff to come back later in the spring to discuss it,” he said.

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