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SLO Supes to talk medical marijuana ordinance 

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors will review an early mock-up of a medical marijuana ordinance on July 26.

The ordinance will eventually create local regulations on the medical cannabis industry and potentially on recreational cannabis should voters approve the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) on California’s November ballot.

The board decided to pursue an ordinance earlier this year, with a key focus on maintaining the county’s ability to locally regulate—and potentially tax—both medical and recreational cannabis, while maintaining access for medical patients.

Since then, county staff has laid a basic foundation after several months of gathering stakeholder input and careful study of both state legislation and local policies adopted around the state. Assistant County Administrator Guy Savage said the county has looked most closely toward Monterey County, which passed an ordinance on July 19. 

The staff report that will be presented to supervisors at the July 26 meeting lays out the several license types created by new state laws and seeks direction on whether to allow those activities and how many licenses to issue. Per California’s Medical Marijuana Safety and Regulation Act, a state license will be required to cultivate, transport, manufacture, or sell medical marijuana and a local permit or authorization will be required to get a state license.

There are several categories for cultivation, determined by size, lighting type, and whether they’re outdoor or indoor. There are also license categories for laboratory testing and manufacturing, which may include the production of cannabis concentrates, edible products, or topical applicants—all highly valued by medical cannabis patients. License types also apply to dispensaries, distributors, and transporters. Savage said that there aren’t plans to significantly alter the county’s existing zoning codes that regulate dispensaries.

One key proposal thus far is to limit cultivation licenses to 100, with further limitations on how many of each type of license will be issued, allowing for the industry to be made up of a variety of small to medium grows done both outdoors and indoors.

Savage said that to staff’s knowledge, there are currently more than 400 commercial medical marijuana grows countywide.

-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay

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