SLO County officials continue battle over marijuana rules


Civil discourse dissolved into angry attacks as San Luis Obispo County Supervisors argued over marijuana regulations on Tuesday, a discussion set to continue Friday morning.

For almost a year, the board has attempted to direct staff to produce a draft cannabis ordinance based on board direction while several consultants have courted marijuana growers with claims county staffers are following their direction.

On February 28, the board reviewed a draft ordinance and assigned then assistant county administrator Guy Savage to make specific changes before putting the draft out for public review.

However, on May 1, county planners James Caruso and Brandi Cummings posted a revised draft ordinance on the county website which bore almost no resemblance to the earlier ordinance. The planners gave the public until May 12 to comment.

Caruso and Cummings’s draft prohibited mobile delivery services which did not have a dispensary from making deliveries. If enacted, more than 90 percent of all delivery services would be put out of business and those permitted to open brick and mortar stores would pick up the extra business.

Even though the supervisors had directed staff to write an ordinance that would allow non-volatile cannabis manufacturing facilities while forbidding volatile manufacturing, Caruso and Cummings’s draft allowed volatile manufacturing facilities. It also appeared to favor large growers and would have put many of the small growers out of business.

On May 12, multiple growers voiced their concerns to county supervisors who were previously unaware that their directions for an ordinance had not been followed.

“Our government needs to draft ordinances that treat everyone fairly,” Supervisor John Peschong said in May. “I am against any ordinance that picks winners and losers.”

After several supervisors brought their concerns to county administrators, Caruso was removed from working on the ordinance and staff was directed to rewrite the draft.

Even so, staff again wrote a draft ordinance that prohibited mobile delivery services which do not have a dispensary from making deliveries.

On Sept. 14, the planning commission reviewed staff’s draft and voted to make 19 changes.

The commissioners voted to allow volatile manufacturing in industrial zones. In regards to limiting dispensaries, the straw vote failed.

On Tuesday, Peschong proposed a handful of changes to the draft ordinance that were voted in by a majority of the board.

Changes include:

  • Permit growers to deliver to customers.
  • A ban on retail brick and mortar cannabis dispensaries.
  • A ban on volatile manufacturing.

Supervisors Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson unsuccessfully argued to allow volatile manufacturing and retail dispensaries.

Shortly before 5 p.m., a motion to continue the meeting was made, Hill dissented and the motion failed. Hill argued that most of the community did not know that the board was going to ban dispensaries. He wanted to reopen public comment.

“We need more public input on these things,” Hill said. “I think these are big things.”

Supervisor Lynn Compton disagreed noting that the issue had been to the board four times and to the planning commission.

“We have had tons of input on this,” Compton said.

The board then voted to continue the meeting until Friday.

Following Tuesday’s meeting, Hill alleged the board had violated the Brown Act.

“Ramming thru an ordinance with new provisions that have not gotten public input is a Brown Act violation,” Hill said on Twitter.

The board plans to discuss cultivation limits and other cannabis regulations at 9 a.m. on Friday.

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2 Comments about “SLO County officials continue battle over marijuana rules”

  1. jorge Estrada says:

    Since this is new turf for the Planning Department, all time should be coded so that our Board knows how much this process is costing everyone. Given the disrepair of our infrastructure, we simply may have to just say no to drugs and fix our roads. The SMART GROWTH cities are better suited to meet this want and better choraled for supervision.

  2. insidelookingout says:

    This is a perfect example of who is wagging the tail. In this case some staff members have taken it upon themselves to write the ordinance the way they want it. Unfortunately this happens too often not only at the County level but in the incorporated cities too. Some elected officials just rubber stamp whatever their staff present to them.

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