The Buellton City Council has approved the first reading of an ordinance that would ban commercial marijuana businesses from the city.
Councilors asked staff to create an ordinance in April, amending the municipal code to prohibit commercial cannabis facilities and to regulate cannabis cultivation.
However, retail businesses outside the city can still deliver to residents, according to city attorney Steve McEwen.
Later in Thursday's meeting, McEwen reiterated that smoking marijuana in public is still illegal.
Councilor Ed Andrisek asked if the city could potentially get involved in a legal battle if businesses try to set up in the city despite the ban.
“The county has been wrestling with the expense of keeping their ordinance in effect. Is there any way we could get drawn into that?”
McEwen said the problem varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
But, he said, “The advantage that Buellton has is it’s relatively small so it would be difficult for a business like that to find a space.”
City Manager Marc Bierdzinski said after the ban on medical marijuana businesses, the city had to shut a business down.
Under city code, Bierdzinski said the property owner is responsible for attorney’s fees related to that kind of situation.
McEwen said he hopes the state’s enforcement of illegal businesses gets stronger, because right now he said it’s weak.
Councilor David King asked about marijuana definitions within the city’s health and safety code.
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“Do they define medical marijuana as commercial?
“So you can’t be a horse with a different color and call it a medical facility and the dispense that way.”
McEwen said the provisions cover both medical and adult-use cannabis.
“This applies to all cannabis, and medicinal cannabis facilities are a subset of that,” McEwen said.
Mary Conway was the only public commenter Thursday night.
She thanked the council for sticking to their guns and going forward with the ban.
“As you can imagine, I’m not crazy about the law that has been passed on the adult use of marijuana,” Conway said. “But I have come to accept it.”
She said what the councilors are doing in passing the ban “is truly harm reduction in a preventative way.”
She talked about the dangers of secondhand smoke from marijuana.
“It is going to take our whole community and valley to really take a look at what harms are inevitable,” Conway said, “and I’m speaking not just to our youth but to our adults.”
Councilor Art Mercado felt the ban was a good idea.
“I think we’re heading in the right direction with this,” Mercado said.
Mercado made a motion to pass the first reading of the ordinance. King seconded.
The motion passed unanimously.