Sunday, May 20 , 2018, 5:20 am | Fair 50º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Supervisors Approve Moratorium on Medical-Marijuana Dispensaries

Sheriff Bill Brown says the move is an important step in avoiding the proliferation of distribution

Following in the city of Santa Barbara’s footsteps, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a moratorium on medical-marijuana dispensaries.

All cities within the county — except Santa Barbara, which approved a suspension on distribution — have banned or prohibited dispensaries.

As many other jurisdictions have found, it’s complicated to regulate and create policy based on foggy definitions.

Dispensaries — for profit, retail locations — are illegal in every sense, but closed-loop collectives and cooperatives are legal under Proposition 214 and Senate Bill 420. A collective with a storefront location can be considered legal if it’s nonprofit and all marijuana is provided by patients.

Patients can obtain medical marijuana by receiving a recommendation from their doctor, and they can register for a state-issued identification card.

While the supervisors attempted to put a stop to collectives as well — asking whether they could regulate people growing and giving it out of their homes, even to patients — the staff reminded them that collectives and cooperatives are legal under state law.

The moratorium is an important step in avoiding the proliferation of dispensaries, Sheriff Bill Brown said. They can be magnets for robbery and other crimes since they often have large amounts of cash and product on hand.

While some people said they are concerned about operating within the law, others use it as camouflage to distribute to both legitimate and illegitimate people.

“Some play both sides of the fence,” Brown said.

San Luis Obispo County has allowed some medical-marijuana facilities to open with minor-use permits, and Ventura County has had no need to take a stance, though the city of Ventura has banned them.

Throughout the local debate, many people involved in growing and distributing medical marijuana have spoken in favor of regulation so that the legitimate places are the only ones around. They are all in the position of a changing legal environment as well, and some have been outspoken in their efforts to stay within the law.

Mark Russell, who has been involved in collectives throughout the county, spoke to the board in favor of the moratorium. However, he urged the supervisors to be careful with ordinance wording, as collectives and dispensaries shouldn’t be thrown into the same definition.

A group of people who work together to grow for themselves is very different than an establishment that buys it and then sells it to others, he said.

The moratorium — during which no new dispensaries will be allowed to open — will initially last for 45 days but can be extended for up to two years.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >