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Pismo passes temporary marijuana ban 

Pismo Beach residents excited about the passage of a ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana may want to temper their enthusiasm, at least for the next 45 days.

Members of the City Council voted 4-1 Nov. 15 to adopt a temporary ban on the outdoor cultivation, manufacturing, laboratory testing, labeling, storing, and wholesale distribution or retail of cannabis. That’s a ban on everything that has to do with marijuana except for indoor cultivation and use. The vote comes on the heels of the approval of Proposition 64, a ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana in the state. 

Pismo Beach City Attorney Dave Fleishman said that some portions of the proposition took effect immediately, requiring revisions to the city’s municipal code that bring it into compliance with the new law. The urgency ordinance would allow the city time to do that, Fleishman said.

“This would prohibit any recreational shops,” Fleishman said. “This urgency ordinance puts a hold on how things are today.”

After the 45-day urgency ordinance expires Dec. 30, the council can vote to extend it for 10 months and 15 days, then again for an additional year. Fleishman said the city would likely ask the council for the first extension come December. 

Councilmember Erik Howell was the lone vote against the temporary ban, stating that he did not see an “urgency” to warrant the ordinance. He also said he believed that residents had a right under Proposition 64 to cultivate up to six marijuana plants outdoors.

“I think this resolution reads as hysteria,” Howell said.

The other council members sided with Fleishman, who argued that the ordinance would allow the city to take a “reasoned approach” to the regulation and possible taxation of recreational marijuana.

“What is the harm in it really?” asked Councilmember Mary Ann Reiss. “It’s a safety measure.”

Howell raised concerns that passing the ordinance could land the city in court.

“I hope this isn’t provoking a lawsuit against us because of Proposition 64,” he said.

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