SLO County supervisors disagree on all things cannabis

By KAREN VELIE

San Luis Obispo County supervisors failed to agree on any proposed changes to the county cannabis ordinances last week, with supervisors Bruce Gibson and John Peschong butting heads with supervisors Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton.

As a result of the death of Supervisor Adam Hill, if the board is split 2-2, nothing passes. In this case, the board majority failed to agree on any of the staff’s phase three cannabis ordinance suggestions.

In 2019, Peschong, Arnold and Compton voted to instruct staff to produce amendments that would help protect residents through increased setbacks, required ventilation for indoor grows and consideration of prohibiting outside grows.

Staff came back with the following proposed phase three amendments:

  • Establish enforcement-related remedies for cannabis violations, including options and scenarios related to a “3-strike” policy;
  • Increase buffer distance from schools and other sensitive receptors;
  • Evaluate and analyze options to prohibit outdoor cultivation;
  • Disallow the payment of water offset fees over the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin;
  • Disallow re-permitting if an operation ceases or violation occurs (no “revolving door”);
  • Require enclosed ventilation systems on indoor grows;
  • Evaluate and analyze drying in hoop houses;
  • Revise standards for ancillary nurseries to be encompassed in the overall cannabis cultivation area.

Following more than three hours of public comment on the proposed phase three amendments that was preceded by cannabis industry lobbyists battling against the proposed changes, Peschong moved from his request to amend the ordinance to supporting no changes.

Peschong explained his change, noting that only six cannabis cultivators have been approved by both the state and the county. In addition, Peschong voiced concerns over changing rules midstream after growers had spent large amounts of money to comply with the current ordinance.

Arnold was seeking the amendments primarily to help stop conflicts between growers and residents. While she supported cannabis cultivation in the county that was to support the small growers, most of whom had been pushed out.

Compton and Arnold primarily voiced concerns over the impacts of cannabis cultivation on residential properties and conflicting agricultural concerns.

On the other side, Peschong and Gibson were supportive of the growers and wanted no changes.

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