San Luis Obispo County Considers Marijuana Growth Ban in the California Valley

California cannabis lawyersThe legalization of recreational marijuana in California on November 9, 2016, brought a host of unexpected questions for the commercial cannabis industry. Municipal and county ordinances have created a confusing web of compliance requirements for marijuana cultivators, distributors, and dispensaries. And in some limited areas, marijuana is simply banned altogether.

County supervisors in San Luis Obispo County are considering a package of commercial cannabis regulations. Among other things, the drafted regulations prohibit the growth of marijuana in areas zoned as residential-suburban. The Tribune reports that this would include the California Valley and the entire Carrizo Plain. Limited groundwater and a high concentration of endangered species (the largest concentration in the lower forty-eight states, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife) are reasons given by opponents in support of banning marijuana growth in the Carrizo Plain. This does not, however, give cause for banning marijuana grows in all other residential-suburban areas of San Luis Obispo County.  

This is not unlike the unfriendly cannabis climate in Marin County, where every city and town council (other than Fairfax) has either taken public positions against marijuana dispensaries or banned them altogether.  The San Francisco Chronicle reports that this lead Marin County officials to recently reject ten dispensary applications. The County also received two separate anti-dispensary petitions with hundreds of signatures. In addition, The North Bay Business Journal reports that the Marin County Board of Supervisors has banned non-medical cannabis business activities in unincorporated areas of Marin County. These actions give cannabis businesses a frosty reception and grim prospects for profitability in Marin County.

What This Means for Cannabis Farmers and Customers

According to the Tribune, code enforcement officers are already issuing violations for marijuana farms in San Luis Obispo County. Growers and business owners must act quickly to protect their daily operations during these uncertain times.  

Cannabis business owners should stay abreast of all regulatory changes – and proposed changes – within San Luis Obispo County. This will allow businesses to comply with all regulations and reduce the chances of being fined or shut down by local code enforcement officers. It will also allow business owners to prepare for those regulations which will require long-term planning and costly solutions. (For example, finding alternate farmland on which to conduct growth operations.)

Business owners can also protect their financial interests through grassroots activism. Petitions, public hearings, calling or writing to local politicians, and other involvement can affect which local regulations are ultimately implemented. Cannabis business owners across the state of California have banded together to form co-operative and advocacy groups which afford their members financial protection and greater political power. Such benefits can mitigate the effects of uncertain regulations and arbitrary enforcement.  

Regardless of whether this particular measure passes, its introduction signals a lack of enthusiasm for growers in San Luis Obispo County. With sound the business advice and tax planning services of experienced cannabis lawyers, farmers and distributors can be prepared to meet the revolutionary changes in California’s cannabis industry – even in unfriendly political climates.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

Sonoma County challenges for pot supremacy as others turn away, July 17, 2017, By Peter Fimrite, The San Francisco Chronicle

More Blog Entries:

How the Retroactive Penalty Provisions of Proposition 64 Apply to Marijuana Convictions, July 27, 2017, California Marijuana Lawyer Blog