Sunday, May 27 , 2018, 5:24 pm | Fair 65º


Local News

Committee Orders Staff to Prepare New Draft of Marijuana Ordinance

Members continue to navigate legal ground in finalizing recommendations for the City Council

View Santa Barbara Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in a larger map (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk map)

The Santa Barbara Ordinance Committee will not meet its deadline to bring the medical-marijuana ordinance back to the City Council, but its three members reached consensus Tuesday on directing staff to once again prepare a draft of the proposal.

To ensure that storefronts operate as collective dispensaries and comply with state law, committee members Frank Hotchkiss, Grant House and Bendy White recommended that all marijuana be cultivated within the Tri-Counties by collective members. But they also said collective members should be residents of Santa Barbara County, which could prove contradictory.

City officials propose mandating that cultivation, membership and financial records be readily available for inspection in order to enforce the collective model.

Allowing cultivation to occur in the Tri-County area for collective dispensaries doesn’t mean the city is implying that the practice is legal, city attorney Steve Wiley said Tuesday. Under state law, someone can grow marijuana as a primary caregiver or qualified patient anywhere, and growing outside of state law is illegal no matter what Santa Barbara’s ordinance allows.

“We’re not allowing anything not already allowed by state law, and we’re not prohibiting anything not already prohibited by state law,” Wiley said.

Armando Martel, the Santa Barbara Police Department’s representative to attend the committee meetings, said law enforcement would prefer broader access to the storefronts and records without a warrant, in case of civil complaints or annual inspections.

White noted “tension” between what the police department proposed and what Wiley suggested was safe legal ground.

Wiley suggested keeping the requirement of a search or inspection warrant — which need probable cause to be issued — since membership medical records have a “legitimate confidentiality concern.” Allowing access to the records, especially patients’ medical records, was contested by House and several members of the public, citing confidentiality issues.

In the final motion to staff, the committee members recommended a citywide cap of five, allowing consumable produces — or “edibles” — to be distributed, and including already agreed upon requirements for allowable locations, discussed at length in previous meetings.

It’s likely that the five spots are already as good as filled. There are three open, operating dispensaries — two on North Milpas Street and one on Olive Street — and two that may be considered legal nonconforming. If the Santa Barbara Patients Group can relocate and open under its application, and The Compassion Collective at 2915 De la Vina St. is deemed legal, the spots would be filled.

While the two on Milpas are too close to each other under the current ordinance, they are allowed to stay open until they go out of business or change ownership, as they were permitted under the previous ordinance.

Several existing dispensaries are still considered illegal or in dispute, which has factored into community concerns over enforcement of the new regulations.

“We don’t believe you have any control over them at all,” Santa Barbara resident Janet Rowse said at Tuesday’s meeting.

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 >