Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 1:26 pm | Fair 76º

 
 
 
 

Public Comments Dominate Meeting on Marijuana Dispensaries

Santa Barbara's Ordinance Committee hears opinions for revising city guidelines, and on the existence of the facilities in general

Santa Barbara residents showed up in force once again for an Ordinance Committee meeting Tuesday regarding the city’s marijuana dispensaries.

Unlike a previous meeting, which focused on the locations and operation of Santa Barbara’s dispensaries, most of Tuesday’s public comments questioned or supported the existence of dispensaries in general.

Committee members didn’t have long to discuss next steps, but decided to send some recommendations to the City Council and will meet again in a few weeks. The recommendations include an unspecified cap and shortened deadline — down to six months from the revised ordinance’s adoption — for nonconforming dispensaries to follow ordinance guidelines.

The cap could be approached citywide or area by area, but the committee suggested more research before making a decision.

The community has little experience with dispensaries that are legal under both city and state law, with only one is in operation. It’s difficult to determine how well the regulations work, and to what extent dispensaries negatively affect the community — if at all — committee member and Councilman Grant House said.

During 90 minutes of public comment, residents discussed ideas for revising the city ordinance, as well as opinions on the existence of dispensaries in Santa Barbara.

Misusing marijuana is a big concern among residents, but there isn’t much information available on how big a role dispensaries play in recreational and underage marijuana use.

The use of medicinal marijuana isn’t recognized in the public school system, and police have both formally and informally cited many students for possession or use on campus, according to Armando Martel of the Santa Barbara Police Department.

The Santa Barbara School Districts have reported 178 suspensions from controlled substances, most from marijuana.

Superintendent Brian Sarvis told the committee Tuesday that one student told him the substance was so easy to get that it may as well be in the school vending machines, adding that Martel doesn’t think those cases have been traced back to dispensaries.

David Hughes spoke on behalf of the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara and said the group requests a prohibition of dispensaries near residential zones and special-needs facilities, such as sober-living complexes.

State law bans smoking medical marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school, recreation center or youth center. Although dispensaries don’t allow smoking or consuming on-site, there’s an anomaly in enforcement if the locations are within that 1,000-foot boundary — as many are, he said.

Residents also have expressed concern with dispensaries near residential areas, especially the pending dispensary at Paseo Chapala.

Esau’s Café would be next door to the dispensary if approved, and owner Scott Stanley said he’s used to controversial locations. At the restaurant’s State Street location, its neighbor was an adult book store. But he said personal beliefs shouldn’t govern business practices as long as they are safe.

“Who are we to dictate who’s in business?” he said.

Dispensary owners attended Tuesday’s meeting, too, and expressed concern that a strict cap and restrictions would hurt competition.

“We know better than the new dispensaries; we know what to do and have been doing it,” said Heather Poet, whose family has operated the nonprofit SB Patients Group collective for eight years. “We’re very proud to provide an herb for those who are sick and dying.”

SB Patients Group is one of the nonconforming dispensaries because its location is illegal under the current ordinance, although it complies with operational requirements.

Like other nonconforming dispensaries, it has to conform to the ordinance’s standards or shut down by a predetermined date — which most likely would change during revision proceedings.

Because of the lengthy public comment period, the Ordinance Committee will meet again to discuss revisions.

Senior planner Danny Kato has updated the dispensary ordinance Web site to include further information such as the Citizen Proposed Ordinance, white papers and new maps showing current and possible location regulations.

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 using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • 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 >