Three SLO County cities moved decisively to ban the cultivation of medical marijuana, allowing them to avoid ceding local control to the state under recently passed legislation.
Grover Beach, Pismo Beach, and Paso Robles all plan to enact bans on cultivation within their respective city limits by March 1.
The Grover Beach City Council met Dec. 4 for the first reading of its ordinance, which would ban commercial cultivation within the city limits. The ordinance does not ban cultivation for personal use by card-carrying medical marijuana patients or licensed caregivers. Grover Beach City Attorney Martin D. Koczanowicz indicated that state law allowed for personal cultivation of six mature plants or 12 immature plants, and restricted canopy size to 100 square-feet per person up to 500 square feet.
The final ordinance will come up for a vote Jan. 19, and would allow the law to take effect before March 1, when new state cultivation regulations will be enacted in any city that hasn’t passed their own ordinance. Several council members expressed an interest in revisiting the the city’s ordinances regarding medical marijuana including cultivation, dispensaries, and mobile delivery services, which could open a discussion of regulation as opposed to outright bans.
“The one thing I know about this [issue] is that I don’t know enough,” said Council Member Miriam Shah. “But I want to know more.”
One day after the Grover Beach’s meeting, council members in neighboring Pismo Beach voted 4-1 to enact their own ban after a public hearing. Unlike Grover Beach, the ban in Pismo is total and prohibits personal cultivation by patients and caregivers in addition to commercial enterprises. Councilmember Erik Howell was the lone dissenting vote on Pismo’s ban. He suggested that the city exempt personal cultivation, and raised concerns that not allowing it could open the city up to legal action.
“There’s a danger rushing into ordinances … . I don’t think anybody wants a lawsuit,” Howell said.
To the north, the Paso Robles City Council unanimously voted on a total ban on medical marijuana cultivation within the city limits. That vote took place at a public meeting Dec. 5, the same night of the Pismo Beach vote. Both Pismo and Paso city stated that revisiting the bans after the state’s March 1 deadline were a possibility.