The Buellton City Council unanimously approved extending its existing moratorium on nonmedical marijuana facilities and cultivation for one year, during its meeting Thursday night.
Earlier this year, the city enacted a temporary moratorium on private marijuana cultivation and nonmedical marijuana facilities, which expires Jan. 12.
City attorney Steve McEwen said he would bring the issue back to the council at the beginning of 2018 to discuss more permanent regulations.
However, McEwen noted that an ordinance wouldn’t preclude the council from allowing recreational cannabis in the future.
He said the moratorium would give the city more time to evaluate how other cities are approaching the issue.
“Cities are taking a wide variety of approaches and some cities have gotten out there early as far as regulating, they want to get in on it, other cities have continued with prohibition,” McEwen said. “Extending the moratorium will give us a little more time to evaluate how those approaches are working.”
Because of changes to state regulations this year, which put medical and recreational or “adult-use” cannabis under one regulatory agency, McEwen said city staff needs more time to research the impact of the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s regulations on local municipalities.
In a letter to the City Council, McEwen said the city is weighing the potential negative impacts of allowing cannabis-related businesses into the area.
“The city is analyzing the potential negative impacts that could stem from private cultivation and/or nonmedical marijuana businesses, including but not limited to property crimes, loitering, drugged driving, business displacement, nuisance conditions, and fire hazards,” he wrote.
Mayor Holly Sierra wanted to know how the moratorium would affect those wanting to grow six plants or less inside their home.
McEwen said under state law the city can’t prohibit personal indoor grows, which have been legal for more than a year.
“Has the county weighed in at all or are they still very much in the research and evaluate phases?” Councilman Foster Reif asked.
McEwen replied that he believes Santa Barbara County is still researching the issue.
The city attorney said he plans to come back to the council with a staff report and to seek its direction.