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Nava Recognizes Community Effort on Marijuana Dispensaries

The Assemblyman presents a legislative resolution to a coalition involved in revising Santa Barbara's ordinance

A group of Santa Barbara residents has been fighting medical-marijuana dispensaries for a few years, and their grassroots coalition has drawn state attention.

Assemblyman Pedro Nava on Friday presented the coalition with a state legislative resolution recognizing its involvement in the city’s ordinance review process. He got involved with the topic after talking to neighborhood advocate Sharon Byrne.

Though the city realized that the issue couldn’t go unchecked, Nava called the 2008 ordinance “woefully inadequate” and praised the citizens’ initiative in bringing the issue forward to elected officials.

Councilman Dale Francisco, who helped craft the original ordinance, called for its revision and served on the Ordinance Committee for the first five months or so of the revision process.

“The storefront retail model does not work,” he said at Friday’s news conference in front of Santa Barbara County Superior Courthouse.

Members of Santa Barbara Fighting Back, law enforcement, representatives of the medical community and citizens spoke against the dispensaries, which they say were never intended under Proposition 215.

“None of us who voted for it said, ‘Please open drug-dealing stores in our neighborhoods, near our schools and near recovery facilities,’” Byrne said.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department needs clarity on the law in order to enforce it, and there continues to be a serious problem of cultivation in national forest areas, Chief Deputy Geoff Banks said.

Nava, a candidate for attorney general, made no comment as to his opinion on the legality of medical-marijuana dispensaries.

The legal status of storefront dispensaries and closed-circle collectives remains uncertain. It’s been left to local jurisdictions to interpret the law and to take a position on dispensaries — from doing nothing to passing a full ban.

The next Santa Barbara Ordinance Committee meeting will be at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Council Chambers 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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