SLO County basically bans hemp cultivation

May 11, 2020

Supervisor Debbie Arnold

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on May 5 to pass a hemp cultivation ordinance that requires 400-acre sites with 2,000-foot setbacks, which will put an end to or seriously scale back every hemp grow that operated in the county last year.

Voicing concerns about heavy water usage, and county enforcement staff’s inability to regulate those violating regulations, Supervisor Debbie Arnold made a motion to also ban hemp in the Edna Valley, to ban growing hemp in hoop houses, and to require an additional 1,000 foot setback from urban reserve lines. Vineyard owners in the Edna Valley had voiced concerns that the terpenes from the cannabis plants could damage their crops and the smell was overwhelming tasting room and events.

Supervisor Bruce Gibson dissented, arguing that the county might as well just completely ban the crop, because the ordinance is so restrictive.

Both hemp and marijuana are cannabis plants. But hemp has 0.3 percent or less THC, the intoxicant in cannabis, and usually sells for about one-fourth the price. The hemp market is currently saturated, with most local industrial hemp growers unable to sell last year’s crop.

While county staff tested local industrial hemp farms for THC content, state and local government agencies failed to provide any oversight for the cultivation of hemp used for research. That left the door open for marijuana cultivators to operate unchecked as hemp growers. Multiple employees of local research hemp farms claim their bosses were planting several rows of hemp surrounding a larger crop of marijuana, that was then sold on the black market.

Nevertheless, county staff had proposed an ordinance with much smaller setbacks and property size requirements. Following the supervisors’ approval of the restrictive hemp ordinance, Assistant Agricultural Commissioner Marc Lea noted his surprise in an email to a group of hemp cultivators.

“Our department had some issues with the proposed ordinance, but we thought that it was a reasonable approach and represented some compromises that would enable industrial hemp cultivation to get a foothold in San Luis Obispo County,” Lea wrote in the May 5 email. “For now, suffice it to say, that the board made serious, serious changes to the proposed permanent hemp ordinance and added major restrictions. These were major, major changes which we certainly were not expected, and will essentially act as a prohibition.”

Three days later, Lea sent a second email, apologizing for the tone of his May 5 email, and asking prospective growers to contact him.

“The board hearing went in a direction that we did not anticipate, and undoubtedly, I could have been more diplomatic in my assessment of the situation in my previous email,” Lea wrote in a May 8 email. “If you have a growing location in mind and want us to make a preliminary determination of eligibility under the permanent ordinance rules, then we would be glad to do that, but we will likely need confirmation from County Planning and Building, and possibly County Counsel, before we can make an official determination of a particular site’s compliance with the permanent ordinance that was passed on Tuesday.”

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Great news and going in the right direction. Just ban it all and keep the incentive department out of ones privacy. Privacy is a better solution thence law enforcement if privacy morphs into salesmanship.


Just keep it illegal here and if one chooses to grow a bush in their home garden, nobody cares. The stink helps regulate that situation.

Adam Hill better watch out with his “NO’ votes against the Maja…I mean Hemp growers or his weekly deliveries from Helios Dayspring will stop. Well, actually now with FBI keeping an eye out the deliveries may have already stopped, that may be why Adam voted NO.

The dope growers got their nose under the tent arguing that marijuana is not just about getting high, a fiber like produced in WWII for rope and now for cloth, and an oil seed like so many others, could just as well be sunflower oil. Its about getting high, no fiber, no oil seed, just $100,000 to the right person to sell dope. We would all be better off ignoring a couple of plants in the backyard or the small-time dealer, who could be controlled, than uncontrolled mafia-style institutionalized government corruption. And why is water use a concern only for hemp, not dope or wine? Corruption, pure and simple.

If you’re going to constantly use the term “dope”, you may consider replacing “wine” with “booze”. Yeah, I have a plants on my backyard, but I’m not seeing how that makes me a “dealer”, especially considering I’ve never sold any cannabis to anyone.

Weed is aptly named as it isn’t rocket science to cultivate, especially with the clones available since legalization. Consumers are now free to grow more than they need and can share with friends without involving the govt. , the board of supervisors, or the “health and wellness centers” —

Many people in SLO county must grow indoors now, which complicates the entire process and requires a huge initial investment.

Wait! Wait! What? Did 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill vote against unrestricted hemp cultivation? Oh dear! I don’t think Mr. Gibson got the message from the F.B.I.

I applaud them. Great job!

Hemp is cannabis hemp can contain THC they are both the same species of plants they breed together.old hemp varieties before the US government got involved would average 15% THC or more.If you don’t believe me do some research on duck foot the year is 1916 this beautiful heaven plant was created averaging 15% THC.

My haters don’t like the truth the truth hurts cannabis is hemp. Modern-day industrial hemp was specifically bred to remove the THC. Old hemp had THC.

Me thinks Noodly is really NT Shredder. Talks the same and certainly has a conflict of interest. Personally, I hate Scammers and the pot biz has always had no shortage of ’em. Sorry Booz Gibby-mon- you no get a comp’d spleef!

The so-called supervisors should have never done MOST of the things they have done in regard to a cannabis ordinance (which for some reason is still un-finished business after literally years). My ‘supervisor’ is a grumpy old scold who probably doesn’t realize how often she says “The voters overWHELMINGLY approved legalization”. That’s great. I agree. Let the overwhelming majority of voters, and their council, live next door to it. Let them compete for water. The majority of these voters whined like dogs about that though, so the council shoved it onto ag land (away from these whiny ‘pro legalization’ voters. If the county is so hot for this tax $$$, then let them provide water from water-metered grow sites in town, near police and fire services.

Similar to the bullet train bond, what the voters approved and what is going on now in the industry are not anywhere close to the same.

If the county is so hot for this tax $$$, then let them provide water from water-metered grow sites in town, near police and fire services.

Doesn’t sound like the same standard that any other agriculture is held too. Why not get up in arms over beef, grapes or the other local ag that uses significantly more water than hemp?