The conservative majority of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors formally passed new marijuana rules that the liberal minority criticized as overly restrictive.
Following months of discussion and numerous meetings, the board voted 3-2 to adopt a marijuana ordinance that bans brick and mortar pot shops in unincorporated areas of the county and places restrictions on the land on which growers can cultivate cannabis.
County staffers, along with supervisors Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson, had sought to allow retail pot shops, with requirements that would have restricted deliveries from only those shops. Multiple small growers voiced concerns that restricting deliveries would result in most of county’s small growers unable to sell their crops.
Board Chairman John Peschong was successful in his proposal to allow growers to deliver directly from the farm to the consumer.
Peschong said the new rules are a “slow-go approach” that cuts down on neighbor-to-neighbor conflicts. In recent years, a rush of marijuana growers into SLO County, particularly in the sparsely populated California Valley, led to numerous complaints about criminal activity, dangerous environmental practices and neighborhood disturbances.
The new cannabis ordinance mandates that pot grows in rural areas be on lots that are 50 acres or larger. Marijuana grows in unincorporated residential areas will have to be situated on lots at least 20 acres in size, and pot farms located in agricultural zones will have to be on lots of at least 10 acres.
Some growers say these restrictions will force them out of business. Supervisors Hill and Gibson voted against the ordinance, echoed those sentiments from behind the dais.
“The losers of the current ordinance as it’s set here are going to be small growers,” Hill said. “All these things are overreactions to hypothetical problems, or problems that, and I hate to say this, that are anecdotal, which, if you look it up, is a logical fallacy.”
Under the new ordinance, only 141 of the hundreds of marijuana growers that registered with SLO County following the passage of Prop. 64, California’s marijuana legalization measure, will be allowed to obtain permits to continue their operations. It is unclear whether 141 growers will be able to meet the new permitting requirements.
While voting to finalize the ordinance, Peschong also said that the new marijuana rules are just a start and that they could change.