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City’s Medical Marijuana Ordinance to Get a Fresh Look

The revision process will continue, but with new members on the council and Ordinance Committee

The new Santa Barbara City Council and Ordinance Committee will join the city’s debate over medical marijuana on Tuesday.

The ordinance revision process will return to the dais — but to new eyes — after heading to the Planning Commission late last year.

Of the former Ordinance Committee members, only Councilman Grant House remains with Councilmen Das Williams and Dale Francisco moving to the Finance Committee. House will be joined by Councilman Bendy White — who addressed the issue as a planning commissioner last year — and Councilman Frank Hotchkiss.

The process to date has taken about six months, and new perspectives could push back the revisions.

The legality of medicinal marijuana is difficult to navigate for municipalities, and the language alone can be confusing.

For-profit storefront businesses are considered dispensaries, and are considered illegal statewide. Collectives are legal under state law, including Proposition 215 and Senate Bill 420, and involve patient-provided inventory and a nonprofit model. Some storefront collectives could be considered legal.

After months of discussion, the Ordinance Committee crafted recommendations for the new ordinance, including a citywide cap of seven exclusionary zones around schools and recovery areas such as Casa Esperanza. Increased security and operational requirements include yearly reviews by police and the city Planning Department’s staff hearing officer.

After the public’s negative reaction to The Farmacy, which was scheduled to go in the ground floor of Paseo Chapala, the committee suggested banning the shops from existing mixed-use buildings.

The Planning Commission suggested a lower cap and agreed with the need for exclusionary areas.

The city passed a moratorium — or suspension ordinance — in December regarding dispensaries, and the City Council will vote on extending the moratorium on Tuesday. There are three permitted storefronts that made it through the approval process before the moratorium.

Santa Barbara County also passed a moratorium last week, and can extend it to two years.

Medical marijuana dispensaries are banned in every other jurisdiction in the county as well as in the city of Ventura.

The Ordinance Committee will hold a hearing on the issue at noon Tuesday in the Council Chambers, followed by a 2 p.m. City Council meeting, at City Hall, 735 Anacapa St.

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

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