Cities throughout the state, including the Central Coast, have begun shoring up their local regulations on medical marijuana, and Santa Maria will be the latest to bring the issue to its City Council on Tuesday.

In October of this year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed three bills, AB 266, AB 243 and SB 643 — collectively known as the Medical Marijuana Regulatory and Safety Act — which provides for the licensing and regulation of medical marijuana. But cities now are revisiting their local ordinances, which must be locked in by March 1, and particularly looking at cultivation and delivery.

"If the city of Santa Maria elects to ban or regulate cultivation, it must have such ordinance enacted before March 1, 2016; otherwise, pursuant to the current language of AB 243, the city loses its right to regulate in this area and will be preempted by the state," a report from the City Attorney's Office said.

The city already has an ordinance prohibiting dispensaries, but the language of the law does not technically ban deliveries of medical marijuana, which is now a requirement of the state, unless a city is willing to let the state regulate deliveries.

The city also will look to either regulate or prohibit cultivation of medical marijuana within city limits. The council can ban or prohibit both commercial and private cultivation.

Assistant City Attorney Kristine Mollenkopf asserted in her report that not banning cultivation would have significant consequences for the city's public safety departments.

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The issue came before the Santa Maria Planning Commission on Nov. 18 for a public hearing, and at that meeting members made it clear they believe cultivation would lead to "a degradation of public health, safety and welfare, except for limited cultivation allowed for individuals for a certified medical reason or by their primary caregiver." 

Because the city already prohibits mobile and stationary medical marijuana dispensaries, the new ordinance would be an extension and clarification of the current municipal code. 

"It would, instead, largely serve as a reaffirmation of the council's existing substance-related policies, including spice, vaping and tobacco smoking," the report said.

The council also will receive a presentation from meteorologist Eric Boldt on the latest El Nino outlook and a staff presentation on the city's storm preparation efforts. The report will include specific efforts the city has made in recent months but also will address what residents and businesses can do to prepare.

In addition, a public hearing will be held to allow residents to weigh in on proposed fee increases for Recreation and Parks facilities, programs and services. A resolution is proposed that would increase fees to get back on track with inflation after a 15-year gap in which fees were not ever increased.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers, 110 E. Cook St.


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