SLO County has begun issuing permits to allow local famers and distributors to grow marijuana.
Photo by Josh Pachio / Cuestonian Staff Photographer
By Holly Walsh
Life & Culture Editor
In the new world of legal weed, questions in San Luis Obispo regarding distribution and regulations swirl about the air.
San Luis Obispo is beginning to take a stance on marijuana regulations by planning to implement no more than three retail storefronts and enforcing only indoor cultivation within the city.
Potential vendors can submit applications for yearly permits beginning July 1, the applications will then be vetted and background checks will be performed, according to county officials.
Currently SLO County has been issuing permits that allow farmers and distributors to legally grow and sell marijuana.
Art Trinidade, who works for Code Enforcement for the county, said the board passed an ordinance that allowed 141 applicants growing cannabis, prior to the ordinance, to apply for permits in 2018.
“The permits can be for cultivation, distribution, manufacturing, or all three depending on zoning they are considering,” Trinidade said.
Trinidade then explained, in regards to how legalization has been affecting farmers, nothing significant has been brought to his attention and there has been no outcry from businesses.
“As to how legalization affects farmland, we are seeing some conversion of farmland and greenhouses to cannabis production but nothing significant,” Trinidade said.
However, at least one dispensary has been shuttered because of the new county regulations.
West Coast Organix, a medical marijuana cooperative delivery service in San Luis Obispo County, was one of the first businesses to apply for a permit after the Jan. 1 legalization. However they were one of the first to have it yanked because of a dispute over its location.
After spending nearly $8,000 in application fees for a retail license, county code enforcement shut the business down on March 6, said Rose Brochini, the co-owner.
“We wanted to beat the stigma surrounding marijuana businesses and worked with the county to put in as much work as possible,” Brochini said. “Nobody said anything was wrong.”
Brochini said she would like to warn other businesses to take caution before applying for permits because “undoubtedly they will have to shut their doors.”
The city council will work on creating rules and regulations regarding how legal marijuana will fit into the community, over meetings during the next year.
SLO City Council took a voluntary cannabis planning survey that was open to the public where citizens expressed their concerns and suggestions about handling marijuana in the county.
Resident Rick Bertram responded that his top concerns relating to cannabis use and sales in the city are the “Influx of homeless people, increased begging, decrease in family atmosphere within the city, increase in crime and a steady decline in morals and values.”
While he said he realizes “there are some benefits to seriously ill people concerning pot, the problem is the majority of users and card holders are not ill, they are stoners.”
On the other side of the issue, Justin Bradshaw said he is concerned that SLO residents will be locked out of the market by overly restrictive policies on cannabis sales and cultivation.
“This plant is here to stay and should be treated like alcohol, not shunned and pushed out of town,” Bradshaw said. “SLO residents have every right to be able to buy their cannabis locally and legally.”
Cuesta student Sam Reyes expressed that having delivery services within the city has worked well and that retail storefronts probably aren’t necessary.
“I don’t think weed culture is detrimental for a city, but I think it’s important for SLO to care about their image and worry about stores attracting undesirables,” Reyes said.
The closest dispensary retail storefront to SLO county is 140 miles away in Monterey. However delivery services are still available within the county.
California is currently the largest regulated cannabis market in the world, according to data provided by FinnCanna Capita, a cannabis royalty company.
The marijuana market industry has proven thus far to be beneficial for the economy with $5.7 billion in unregulated market sales and $2.8 billion in medical market sales. By 2020, this is expected to swell to almost $4 billion in additional annual market size, according to FinnCanna Capita.