How should Arroyo Grande handle legalized marijuana? The city wants to hear from you

Arroyo Grande is pondering how to regulate marijuana businesses.
Arroyo Grande is pondering how to regulate marijuana businesses.

Do you think Arroyo Grande should let residents grow pot in their backyards? How about open up a recreational cannabis dispensary?

The Arroyo Grande City Council is looking to answer these questions and more as it takes on the often-controversial topic of recreational marijuana Tuesday night.

With the passage of Proposition 64 last year, California cities and counties have been forced to reckon with the new world of legal recreational marijuana, and all the challenges that come with regulating it.

Some, like early-adopter Grover Beach, pushed a tax that would help the city profit off the potentially lucrative industry once state license regulations get off the ground next year. (For now though, Grover Beach is still limiting its cannabis businesses to medical marijuana only.)

Others, like Arroyo Grande, are just now starting to question how they want to deal with it.

The city has previously kept a tight leash on medical marijuana — banning brick-and-mortar dispensaries, mobile delivery services and even cultivation, before reversing course last year and allowing some limited at-home growth and delivery services — but has been relatively mum on medical marijuana’s recreational cousin.

The chief questions are whether residents should be allowed to grow their personal pot plants outside (personal indoor cultivation is already expressly allowed under Prop. 64), and whether different types of cannabis businesses should be allowed to open in the city. Those businesses could include dispensaries, nurseries, manufacturers, laboratory testing, warehouses and delivery services, among others.

For now, city staff is recommending no to all but the last option.

“It’s really from a staff resources perspective,” City Manager Jim Bergman said Monday, noting that it would take a lot of staff time to start regulating such businesses. He also noted that staff is recommending against outdoor growing because of “smell and security” concerns.

All of this could change Tuesday night however, if the City Council decides to pursue fewer restrictions or attempt to follow in Grover Beach’s footsteps.

“Grover is doing what they want to, and what they have found to be best for their city in their process,” Bergman cautioned. “And we are going through our own process.”

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie