Grover Beach to consider pursuing tax on medical marijuana

Medical marijuana clone plants that are used to grow medical marijuana at a medical marijuana cooperative in Seattle.
Medical marijuana clone plants that are used to grow medical marijuana at a medical marijuana cooperative in Seattle. AP

Grover Beach could soon be the first city in San Luis Obispo County to tax medical marijuana sales.

The Grover Beach City Council is expected to offer staff direction at its meeting Tuesday night on whether it should pursue a regulatory structure that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries, commercial cultivation, manufacturing of cannabis products, laboratory testing and mobile delivery.

The city will at the same time consider whether it wants to place a measure on the Nov. 8 general election ballot to tax medical marijuana sales.

According to a city staff report, Grover Beach has received four applications that request the city permit medical marijuana-related activities: A company doing business as The Monarch has applied to open a dispensary with indoor cultivation, laboratory testing, manufacturing and mobile deliveries; Beachside Health and Wellness Center and Elite Care have both asked to open dispensaries with mobile deliveries; and Point Bay Distributors has applied to open a medical marijuana manufacturing, distribution and laboratory testing facility.

4 Number of businesses that have applied to open medical marijuana-related facilities in Grover Beach

Grover Beach now permits some limited at-home cultivation, as allowed by the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, though it prohibits commercial cultivation and dispensaries.

The council has previously indicated that it would be open to the idea of allowing dispensaries and commercial cultivation, especially if it could set up a way to tax the products.

Two decades after the Compassionate Use Act was approved by California voters, local governments are still struggling to balance regulation of medical marijuana. Here is an abbreviated history of the issue in SLO County.

Other cities — such as Santa Cruz, San Jose, Palm Springs, Oakland and Sacramento — have passed medical marijuana tax measures, while Santa Barbara and King City voters are expected to consider similar measures in November.

If the council chooses to pursue a tax Tuesday night, it will have to act fast: The deadline to submit the measure to the county for placement on the ballot is Aug. 12, meaning the council would need to approve the measure at its Aug. 1 meeting. Otherwise, the council could choose to put the measure to a vote at the next general election in November 2018.

City Manager Matt Bronson also noted on Thursday that the measure could be opened up to include recreational marijuana, if a statewide recreational marijuana initiative succeeds in November.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

California was the first state to allow medical marijuana. Now, two decades later, voters are expected to be asked whether to legalize recreational use of the drug. The legalization measure most likely to qualify for the statewide November ballot