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SLO staff suggests allowing 3 marijuana stores, indoor cultivation only

The moment has arrived for the San Luis Obispo City Council to start tackling marijuana regulations — and early staff recommendations suggest the city will allow no more than three cannabis retail storefronts and commercial indoor cultivation only.

The council will hold a cannabis study session meeting Tuesday night, beginning at 6 p.m. at City Hall at 990 Palm St., to kick off its discussions on drafting new pot regulations.

The meeting will help set the direction of the new laws before an anticipated meeting on May 1 to adopt formal regulations.

City staff members have drawn up an overview of what the new laws could look like based on public feedback, policy research and input from groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Prevention of Substance Abuse for Youth (POSAFY).

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Proposed new city regulations suggested by staff members include the following:

  • A limit of three storefronts for commercial sales and no permitted downtown storefronts;
  • Allowances for recreational and medical marijuana businesses in the city, with storefront and delivery options;
  • Prohibitions of marijuana-related events and onsite consumption;
  • A limit of 70,000 square feet of canopy for indoor cultivation with no outdoor commercial cultivation allowed;
  • Manufacturing limited to non-volatile processing;
  • Buffers from cannabis businesses of 200 feet from residential zones and 600 feet from schools;
  • A requirement for cannabis vendors to be certified and ranked prior to applying for a permit.

City staff is recommending against allowing pot storefronts in the downtown core based on feedback from the public, the Police Department and Downtown SLO, a nonprofit with the mission of fostering the downtown economy.

Police Chief Deanna Cantrell has expressed concerns about challenges with patrolling the downtown if new cannabis stores opened. The city’s center is often packed with bar-goers, cars and pedestrians, and police already are presented with challenges monitoring high concentrations of people.

The city staff proposals may be changed or revised based on the council’s feedback on Tuesday.

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Rows of marijuana plants. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Staff will then move forward and publish comprehensive draft regulations for presentation to the community and the Planning Commission before potential council adoption in May.

More than 67 percent of the city’s voters supported Proposition 64, the initiative to legalize marijuana in California. Within a few years, the city anticipates marijuana could generate as much as $3 million annually in tax revenues.

“Overall, the draft regulations are intended to protect public health, safety, and welfare — and support the local cannabis economy,” city staff members wrote in a report in advance of Tuesday’s meeting.

If adopted as proposed, the city’s laws would be more permissive to commercial cannabis activities than the county’s, which adopted a first-year “slow growth” approach, prohibiting marijuana stores and limiting a canopy area of indoor cultivation to 22,000 square feet.

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