In about three minutes and with nary a comment, the Pismo Beach City Council took a step that has been contentious or impossible for several other local cities.
During its Feb. 17 meeting, the Pismo council voted unanimously to introduce an ordinance that would amend an existing law, effectively prohibiting mobile medical marijuana dispensaries within Pismo Beach city limits. The matter will return for a final council vote on March 3.
Thanks to a 2007 law, Pismo Beach—like all other incorporated cities in San Luis Obispo County—already prohibits “brick and mortar” dispensaries. However, until the introduction of this ordinance, the city didn’t explicitly forbid mobile dispensaries from operating.
Within the county, only Atascadero and Arroyo Grande specifically ban the operation of mobile dispensaries, with Pismo Beach now set to join their ranks. Similar efforts in 2014 to prohibit mobile dispensaries in Paso Robles and SLO were stymied by scores of medical marijuana advocates who protested and spoke out at council meetings.
There were no such advocates in attendance on Feb. 17, as City Attorney Dave Fleishman introduced the ordinance to a practically empty room. No members of the public or council members spoke on the item, and the council’s vote was unanimous.
Asked for her thoughts on the Pismo council’s action, Stephanie Kiel—owner of Ethnobotanica Patients Cooperative, a local mobile dispensary—said she was disappointed.
“These mobile dispensary bans are really hard to enforce and don’t have teeth,” Kiel told New Times. “That said, laws like this are encouraging an unregulated black market to prosper. They’re pushing marijuana into the shadows and scaring away legitimate businesses like mine.”
According to a Dec. 20, 2014, article in the Orange County Register, California marijuana activists are strongly considering a statewide ballot measure for 2016 that would seek to legalize recreational marijuana use. Such a measure would need to be submitted by Oct. 2 of this year.
In the city’s staff report, Fleishman cited “increases in illegal drug activity” and “adverse impacts” associated with dispensaries as the primary motivation for banning all types of them.