Pismo Beach is moving toward a full ban on medical marijuana cultivation, but the City Council will continue to allow mobile dispensary services to operate within city limits.
On Tuesday, the council voted 4-0 to direct city staff to begin drafting regulations that would ban cannabis cultivation in Pismo Beach for medicinal purposes. Councilwoman Mary Ann Reiss was absent.
It's already illegal to grow pot in Pismo Beach for recreational or any other use under local, state and federal laws.
But the council is attempting to get a jump on new state regulations and maintain local control over medical marijuana cultivation by drafting the ban and adopting the proposed rules at a future meeting.
The move is expected to help ensure the city meets an impending deadline of the new statewide laws — Assembly bills 243 and 266 and Senate Bill 643 — governing the cultivation, testing and distribution of medical marijuana set to become effective March 1.
Under the legislation signed by the governor in October, California's cities and counties need to adopt land-use ordinances regulating medical marijuana before March or face the state becoming the sole licensing authority for cultivation applicants in those jurisdictions.
Only brick-and-mortar medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal in Pismo Beach. Mobile dispensaries are permitted, which city leaders said will allow those medical marijuana patients residing in Pismo Beach to still have access to their medicines.
"We were headed in one direction ... (and) we had a complete turnaround based on that testimony," Mayor Shelly Higginbotham said about the council's action earlier this year to reverse its decision to ban mobile dispensaries based on public outcry to do so.
"This isn't going to be our last decision (on marijuana)," she added. "We can revisit (the cultivation ban) under our local control. But at this point, we need to take charge of our city."
In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, allowing patients with certain diseases and conditions, and their designated caregivers, to possess and cultivate marijuana for their personal medical use through the recommendation or approval of a physician.
Councilwoman Sheila Blake was adamantly opposed to allowing any type of medical marijuana cultivation in the city and said she receives frequent calls and emails with lots of various arguments for and against the proposal.
"I'm not in favor of this in any way shape or form," Blake said, noting one person argued they should get to grow their own pot because they're allowed to make their own wine.
Her response was, "Well, you can't. For the same reason that you can't make your own nuclear device. Just the fact that you can make it doesn't mean that you can or you should."
No date was set for the proposed ban to return to the council for a public hearing and possible adoption.