A split San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors directed staff Tuesday to develop an urgency ordinance regulating the cultivation of medical marijuana that, if adopted, could be on the books until the elected officials pass permanent rules.
With a 3-2 vote — Supervisors Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson dissented — the board directed county staff to come back with rules next month banning any new plantings of medical marijuana countywide and, also, prohibiting grows of any kind in residential and suburban areas.
The only exception proposed would be to allow individual medical marijuana patients to grow up to six mature plants and 12 immature plants.
Tuesday’s move came after the elected officials spent the better part of the day discussing how they want to regulate the cultivation of medical marijuana in the unincorporated areas of the county.
The move also came at the urging of Sheriff Ian Parkinson, who told the supervisors any regulations limiting the cultivation of medical marijuana will help his deputies enforce what he called an “ambiguous law,” Proposition 215.
Prop. 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, allows persons with certain diseases and conditions, and their designated caregivers, to possess and cultivate marijuana for their personal medical use through a recommendation or approval of a physician.
He also said the county needs laws sooner rather than later, especially in areas like Suey Creek and California Valley, where large-scale marijuana grows are prevalent and people are growing under the guise of Prop. 215.
“We talked about this before,” Parkinson said. “(Prop. 215) has caused a lot of issues for law enforcement and for the public.”
The county has no rules governing cultivation of medical marijuana, other than state regulations, and in late March, the board directed staff to pursue developing new, permanent rules governing the cultivation of medical cannabis in the county.
Individuals who have a physician’s recommendation or approval under Prop. 215 are permitted to grow the drug under state regulations.
The county’s permanent rules aren’t expected to be adopted until early spring 2017, and Parkinson told the supervisors he can’t wait that long because illegal cannabis grows are overwhelming his department.
“The people we are encountering are not from here,” he said. “They are coming here because we have bans in neighboring counties. They solved their problem and pushed it into our county. It’s coming into every one of your districts. It’s unregulated, and we have allowed that to happen.”
A proposed urgency ordinance will be brought back to the supervisors for possible adoption Aug. 23. For it to pass, the new rules would need a four-fifths vote.