State Licensing Puts Pressure on Locals to Regulate

State Licensing Puts Pressure on Locals to Regulate

Protection for state medical cannabis extended by federal budget amendment

As “opening day” for State cannabis licensing approaches, local governments are scrambling to develop effective local regulations. Cities and counties up and down the coast have recently addressed a flurry of proposals, often with mixed results.

In Santa Barbara County, where many cultivators are exempt from the 2016 moratorium on commercial cannabis because of prior operations, the Board of Supervisors recently voted to put on hold approval of a process that would allow those cultivators to have their legal non-conforming status officially determined. The Board postponed voting on the proposed amendments to Article X, and instead directed staff to return with additional options and input from State authorities.

In the City of Lompoc, the city council recently passed Ordinance No. 1640(17) greenlighting commercial cultivation, distribution, manufacturing, and retail. Less than a year ago, the council was considering an outright ban on commercial activities, and stringent regulations on in-home personal cultivation. In October, they moved to an open market, permitting most of the commercial activity legal under the new State law, including medical and recreational dispensaries and delivery.

In San Luis Obispo County, proposed amendments to Title 22 regarding commercial cannabis activities dominated the October 17th Supervisors meeting. While the proposed amendments looked to permit most commercial activities, Chairman John Peschong proposed changes that would, among other things, ban manufacturing of edibles and both medical and recreational dispensaries. The proposed changes were met with visible shock from many in the room, but an informal poll of the Supervisors showed a majority in support of the changes. The Board meets again October 20th to allow for public comment and to continue consideration of the proposed amendments.

As local governments are forced to grapple with impending State licensing and implementation of local regulations to limit what activities can occur in their jurisdictions, residents and industry participants are both left to wonder what the final landscape will look like.

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