Mobile medical marijuana dispensaries may be banned in Arroyo Grande

In response to a report issued by the county’s civil grand jury earlier this year, the Arroyo Grande City Council has taken the first step toward prohibiting mobile medical marijuana dispensaries from operating within the city.

The city has had rules in place since 2008 prohibiting the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries. But its ordinance did not explicitly refer to mobile dispensaries, such as a delivery service.

The council voted 4-1 on Tuesday, with Councilwoman Caren Ray dissenting, to add that language to its existing rules, said City Clerk Kelly Wetmore.

The ordinance will come back for final approval Oct. 9, and will likely be placed on the consent agenda, where items are not usually discussed and approved in a group. However, any council member can pull an item for additional discussion or comment.

In June, the county grand jury released a report stating that the county had effectively stopped “brick and mortar” medical marijuana dispensaries from operating locally, but it has done little to regulate the mobile services that sprang up to deliver the medication to patients.

In San Luis Obispo County, jurors noted, there is an ordinance that was approved in 2007 that would in theory allow a medical marijuana dispensary to open and serve patients.

But applicants have tried three times to open such a business in the past five years, and each time they have been shot down.

The seven cities in the county all prohibit storefront medical marijuana dispensaries, but they “are simply not aware of the number of medical marijuana mobile collective delivery services operating in their jurisdictions and make no attempt to regulate these businesses,” grand jurors wrote in the report.

The “unknown number” of mobile delivery services has “created a ‘gray’ market the local government is ignoring,” according to the report.

Grand jurors said they learned the number may be as high as 40.

The grand jury recommended cities should develop ordinances regulating mobile medical marijuana collective delivery services, require such businesses to possess a business license and seller’s permit, and compile lists of all such businesses operating within their respective cities.

Civil grand jury recommendations are not binding.