An historic battle for marijuana candidates in Templeton

March 1, 2019


What is generally a quiet election, this year’s race for three seats on the Templeton Area Advisory Group (TAAG) has turned into a contentious battle between longtime community members and three marijuana industry insiders. [Cal Coast Times]

Even though TAAG does not have the ability to implement planning decisions, it is an influential voice to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission. The TAAG Board has voted to recommend the county approve several marijuana grows and has also asked the county to deny several cannabis cultivation sites, with many more in the pipeline.

In past elections, TAAG had issues with getting enough candidates to fill the available seats. Last year, only 34 residents voted in the TAAG election. Currently, there are seven candidates running for three seats on the board, and several have been sending out email advertisements.

That dynamic underscores the growing influence the marijuana industry is having countywide on local government bodies. And with three applicants for TAAG involved in the cannabis industry, Saturday’s election is an opportunity for marijuana business owners to push their agendas.


Incumbent Chris Cobey is an attorney, specializing in employment law and litigation. As a member of the board, he has voted for and against cannabis cultivation proposals.

“The issues now facing TAAG include not only the usual ones concerning commercial, residential, and agricultural land use, including events, but the sometimes highly-charged ones of cannabis cultivation, processing, transport, and groundwater use,” Cobey says in his campaign statement. “I believe I offer a respectful, civil, informed, experienced, and unbiased voice for our rural community on these issues.”

Incumbent Bruce Jones M.D. is a retired orthopedic surgeon. As a member of the board, he also voted for and against cannabis cultivation proposals.

Marie Roth is the founder of several marijuana advocacy groups. She has worked to promote marijuana tourism and businesses.

“I am a long time North County resident keenly aware of the desire for pristine Central Coast living and how it combines with regulated, income producing Ag & Agra tourism opportunities,” Roth writes in her statement.

Jon De Morales is a 30 year Templeton resident who retired after serving as the executive director of the Atascadero State Hospital for 10 years.

“Our community will always contend with issues of development and change,” De Morales wrote in his statement. “Current concerning issues involve the establishment of cannabis operations in our area and other general land use and development issues, and water. I believe that my fifty years of experience and involvement in our North County area qualifies me to represent the best interest of our community.”

Jason Kallen is a cannabis cultivator who recently moved to Templeton and applied for a permit for a 3 acre outside grow, 22,000 square feet of indoor cultivation, and manufacturing of pot at a site on South El Pomar Road. TAAG is planning to discuss Kallen’s project in early April.

Kallen also applied for two other marijuana grows in North County and a retail cannabis store in San Luis Obispo. He does not mention in his statement his involvement in the cannabis industry.

“For the past several years, I have built relationships with our elected officials of the county surrounding land use and property rights for the residents of SLO county,” Kallen writes in his statement. “As a local organic farmer and business owner, I want to make sure local landowners are properly represented and supported by our county government.”

Frances Esters lives at the same address as Kallen, and is also an applicant for the cannabis store permit in San Luis Obispo.

Rockey Spurgeon is a 37 year resident of Templeton, who worked for the California Department of Mental Health prior to his 2015 retirement.

The annual TAAG election will be held Saturday between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Templeton Community Service District office, located next to the fire station. All registered voters in Templeton are eligible to vote in the election.

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With all the skunks that roam the urban interface around Templeton and the road kill who could ever distinguish the smell of a grow.

A skunk shooting off in your yard fades quickly. With all the pot grows in Carpenteria, most of the town smells terrible about half the year.

This is not the case of the airport was here and now after people moved in knowing about it they bitch, this is keeping an eye on a new project to make sure it fits the surrounding area.

Jason Kallen is wanting to put a large grow next to many homes. Large marijuana grows stink much of the year. The county supervisors did a terrible job writing out this ordinance and are allowing these large smelly grows in close proximity to people’s homes. Those in office are allowing a greedy few to turn Templeton into Carpinteria, a city where property values have plummeted as people leave town because they cannot stand the smell. The supervisors need to revisit the ordinance. It is time to support those supervisors who protect the community and remove the others from office. Curious which ones are friends with Kallen?

Fireplace and BBQs smell for most of the year. Where’s the outrage? I see many houses in the north county relatively close to the highway (car exhaust). Where’s the outrage? Maybe some people are offended by the smell of jasmine bushes. Should we banish all plants that emit an odor?

NO, just marijuana and those classy pot farmers, real ‘salt of the earth” types , you know.

I do agree with you that there should not be commercial sized grows near residential areas but I disagree on the blanket statement that all cannabis grows stink. I don’t grow now but in the past I have had 6 plant personal grows that made my house smell of oranges (tangie strains), berries (blueberry strains), pine trees and lemons (jack herer), just to name a few. Point being, cannabis comes in all flavors and smells. This isn’t the 70’s when everything smelled like a dead skunk. Knowing that information could help the uninformed decision makers maybe come up with a compromise (ie: no skunk strains). It is a slippery slope though dictating what variety of a certain crop a farmer can grow simply based on the terpene levels of the variety. There are many agriculture smells that nearly make me vomit when I drive past and I feel terrible for people that live near them, but I bet to the broccoli farmer it doesn’t smell at all and to the county it just smells like money. One thing is for sure, not even I would want someone with skin in the game to be on a board that makes recommendations about it. The first 2 candidates sound ideal, educated, can vote both ways on the topic depending on the factors of each case.. people with common sense and no apparent hidden or blatant agenda.

There are two that I wouldn’t vote for, reason, this statement below says it all, this guy knows payola.

“For the past several years, I have built relationships with our elected officials of the county surrounding land use and property rights for the residents of SLO county,