Pismo Beach to vote on marijuana grows, synthetic drugs

An aerial view of Pismo Beach.
An aerial view of Pismo Beach. Tribune

Pismo Beach could soon be cracking down on both the cultivation of medical marijuana and the sale of synthetic drugs in the city.

At its meeting Tuesday, the City Council will consider two ordinances: one that would ban or regulate medical marijuana cultivation and another that would ban sales of synthetic drugs often called spice or bath salts.

Medical marijuana

The first proposed ordinance comes after Gov. Jerry Brown, on Oct. 9, signed the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, which established a regulatory structure for medical marijuana.

The bill states that cities without specific ordinances regulating or prohibiting the cultivation of marijuana by March 1, 2016, will lose their ability to regulate medical marijuana in the city, and the state will become the sole licensing and regulatory authority.

To keep local control over medical marijuana growth, many cities in California have approved or begun drafting ordinances that either regulate or ban cultivation within city limits.

Locally, both the Arroyo Grande City Council and Planning Commission have discussed such an ordinance. On Nov. 24, the Arroyo Grande City Council directed its staff to begin drafting an ordinance banning cultivation, and the Planning Commission recommended the council adopt the ban at its meeting Dec. 1, though commissioners stressed that they would prefer to regulate the growth rather than ban it. The item is scheduled to go back before the City Council on Jan. 12.

In a report prepared by city attorney Dave Fleishman, the Pismo staff encouraged the city to consider banning medical marijuana cultivation, rather than regulating it.

“There have been a number of recent cases, including one last week, that have upheld outright bans on cultivation of medical marijuana,” according to the report. “That is an option open to Council, and the Chief Of Police recommends this option, rather than regulation.”

The report also stressed that Pismo Beach approved medical marijuana delivery services to operate in the city limits at a meeting early this year, giving its residents “an effective and discreet method of obtaining medical marijuana within the City, and action taken by the Council relating to this request will not affect that.”

If the council decides to pursue a ban Tuesday night, the item would go before the council at its first meeting in January for its first reading.

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors and the San Luis Obispo City Council also are expected to discuss cultivation ordinances at their respective meetings Tuesday.

Synthetic drugs

The Pismo Beach City Council also will consider an ordinance banning sales and distribution of a handful of recreational synthetic drugs at its meeting Tuesday.

The ordinance would ban psychoactive bath salts — which the city defines as “any crystalline or powder product that contains a synthetic chemical compound that, when consumed, elicits psychoactive or psychotropic stimulant effects” — and psychoactive herbal incense — “any organic product consisting of plant material that contains a synthetic stimulant compound that, when consumed, elicits psychoactive or psychotropic euphoric effects.”

These drugs are marketed under a range of names such as Bliss, Blizzard, Blue Silk, Bonzai Grow, Charge Plus, Charlie, Cloud Nine, Euphoria, Hurricane, Ivory Snow, Ivory Wave, Lunar Wave, Ocean, Ocean Burst, Pixie Dust, Posh, Pure Ivory, Purple Wave, Red Dove, Scarface, Snow Leopard, Stardust, Vanilla Sky, White Dove, White Night, White Lightning, Scooby Snax, K2, K3, Genie, Smoke, Spice, Potpourri, Buzz, Voodoo, Pulse, Hush, Mystery, Earthquake, Stinger, Ocean Blue, Serenity, Fake Weed and Black Mamba.

There is no indication that the drugs are available at businesses in Pismo Beach, according to a separate city report prepared by Fleishman, the city attorney, but staff and police Chief Jake Miller encouraged the city to enact an ordinance banning the substances to avoid having to react to potential sales of the drugs in the future.

“Currently, California and federal laws prohibit some synthetic drugs,” according to the report. “However, the manufacturers of these compounds continually alter the chemical makeup of their products to avoid coverage under the laws. As a result, synthetic drugs can be extremely dangerous.”

Fleishman cited several other local cities that have chosen to prohibit the drugs, including Atascadero, which reported that it had seen a dramatic reduction in the service calls related to synthetic drugs after its ordinance went into effect.

If approved Tuesday night, the ordinance would have to go back to the council for further readings and final approval before going into effect.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie