- Posted by Laura Croft, Esq
- On February 9, 2017
- cannabis, cultivation, dispensary, MCRSA, moratorium, regulations, San Luis Obispo Interim Urgency Ordinance
In response to a proliferation of Cannabis cultivation sites, San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors passed Urgency Ordinance 3334, in September of 2016, banning any new cultivation of Cannabis in the unincorporated areas of the county. County officials estimate there are more than 500 marijuana cultivation sites in the county. Supervisors expressed deep concerns about Cannabis cultivation in the region, namely the sapping of the limited resources of water and the remoteness of water sources. Supervisor Debbie Arnold favored stricter interim ordinance measures and explained that San Luis Obispo County, and California Valley specifically, is simply not an appropriate place for cultivation. Arnold made these statements when the California draught posed a significant and ongoing threat to California Valley and neighboring areas. It is unclear if the January 2017 rains have changed the SLO Supervisors’ position on Cannabis cultivation and whether the permanent ordinance will reflect the change in 2017 rainfall.
While banning new Cannabis cultivation, the urgency ordinance provides that all cultivation sites that existed prior to August 23, 2016 are exempt from the moratorium. The urgency ordinance requires the existing sites, throughout the county, to meet certain criteria to continue, including having at least a 6-foot-tall fence to enclose the cultivation area and the entire site must comply fully with all County and State ordinances and statutes, not withstanding any other provision of Titles 20, 22 or 23.
The urgency ordinance contains the following exemptions:
- Section 5 – New Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation for medical Cannabis patients and primary caregivers:
- The indoor cultivation of six (6) or fewer marijuana plants (including both mature and immature plants) with a combined canopy that does not exceed one-hundred (100) square feet in size, per qualified patient at any one time, or the indoor cultivation by a primary caregiver for up five (5) qualified patients, and with a combined canopy that does not exceed five-hundred (500) square feet in size.
Cultivation sites are also required to register with the county, within 60 days of the adoption of the urgency ordinance, by November 18, 2016, via the Cultivation Registration Application. Section 7 Registration Requirement.
SLO advises that new grows “may still register provided they meet all the requirements under Section 5B (indoor) and Section 5C (outdoor) exemptions of the Urgency Ordinance.” However, there is no appeal process for those who missed the registration deadline, and do not fall under Section 5B/5C exception, or who did not meet the requirements necessary to successfully register their grows. Cultivators in either of these situations will have to wait until the urgency ordinance is no longer in place and new processes are implemented under a permanent ordinance.
Dispensaries: Currently there are no permitted dispensaries in the unincorporated areas of the County. The County’s existing Land Use Ordinance Section 22.30.225 and Section 22.06.030, Table 2-2, allows for dispensaries to be established and operate for medical Cannabis sales only. A Minor Use Permit must be obtained prior to establishing or operating a dispensary. This section prohibits cultivation of medical marijuana at a permitted dispensary or on the dispensary property. Dispensaries for recreational use are currently prohibited. Mobile dispensaries are required to obtain a Minor Use Permit, and Mobile dispensaries operating from another jurisdiction are allowed to deliver within the County.
Timeframe: The urgency ordinance goes into effect for a minimum of 45 days, and can be extended for up to two years. The present regulations are temporary and will be in place while county staff draft a permanent ordinance regulating Cannabis in the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo. Staff anticipates the draft will be available for public review sometime in Spring 2017, with public outreach meetings to follow. The ordinance is expected before the Board late Summer 2017.
Please contact CannaBusinessLaw for expert assistance with Cannabis licensing, permitting, and compliance relating to commercial Cannabis in California.