Lompoc adopts “free-market approach” to marijuana

Grover Beach could face some stiff competition from the south in its bid to be a regional leader in the budding marijuana industry. [KSBY]

On Tuesday night, the Lompoc City Council approved an ordinance that City Manager Patrick Wiemiller described as a “free-market approach” to marijuana. As a result, a variety of both medical and recreational marijuana businesses could soon open in the Santa Barbara County city.

Lompoc’s ordinance does not set limits on the number of marijuana business that can open, nor on the number of applications the city receives or permits it issues. The types of businesses allowed under the ordinance include brick and mortar dispensaries, delivery services, growers and pot product manufacturers. Marijuana businesses will not be allowed, though, within a 600-foot radius of schools and daycare and youth centers.

Under the new rules, smoking marijuana will be permitted in most public places, but not in public parks and the common areas of residential complexes. Individual growers will be restricted to cultivating six plants at home.

The Lompoc City Council adopted the ordinance amid threats of a referendum aimed at overturning the new marijuana rules. Likewise, religious leaders expressed frustration over churches not being included in the areas off limits to pot businesses.

An application process for pot-related permits in Lompoc may begin as early as next month. The state of California plans to begin issuing licenses for recreational marijuana businesses next year.

The city of Lompoc plans to ask its voters to decide on a tax structure for marijuana businesses. A tax measure could appear on the ballot in Nov. 2018.

The SLO County Board of Supervisors plans to revisit marijuana regulations next year. At that time, the supervisors could consider crime rates, costs, and revenue generated from a less regulated marijuana industry in Lompoc and Grover Beach.