The Unity Shoppe with partners the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Santa Barbara’s Fighting Back and the Santa Barbara School District will hold a town hall to discuss neighborhood medical-marijuana dispensaries at 7 p.m. Thursday in Victoria Hall, 33 W. Victoria St.

In recent weeks, Santa Barbara has been inundated with meetings, hearings, marches, news articles and other forms of public awareness regarding marijuana dispensaries on city streets. Many residents have expressed concerns about the locations of medical-marijuana dispensaries in the city as well as about the existence of the ordinance.

Representatives of the Santa Barbara School District have testified to the increasing problem of disciplinary action required for students using or reselling medical marijuana, and of students being under the influence of medical marijuana while at school. Other residents have expressed concerns about the dispensaries in the city, and that city approval of such dispensaries was sending the wrong message to Santa Barbara’s youths.

In the city of 86,000, there are 17 dispensaries in various legal and illegal forms and five more permits awaiting approval.

The event will allow representatives from schools, addiction treatment centers, neighborhood groups and businesses to present facts and concerns regarding marijuana dispensaries in the community. In addition, it will be a forum for residents to educate themselves, express their concerns and have their voices heard.

— Tess Greenberg is a media and special events coordinator for the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.