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Santa Barbara Voters Shut Down Measure T Pot Ban

Storefront marijuana dispensaries will continue to be permissible under a revised city ordinance

Marijuana was a big-ticket item in elections Tuesday in both California and Santa Barbara, and local results were controversial to statewide opinion.

Though the California proposition to legalize personal possession and cultivation of marijuana was shot down by voters, Santa Barbara residents supported the existence of medical marijuana storefront dispensaries, opposing the Measure T ban.

With all precincts reporting by early Wednesday, Measure T received 13,504 no votes, or 60.64 percent, compared with 8,766 yes votes, or 39.36 percent.

The combination of the two ballots’ results means marijuana keeps its status quo in California, with medical marijuana being legal for qualified patients and recreational marijuana still being illegal — as it is throughout the entire country.

Dispensary supporters cheered Measure T’s failure Tuesday night and said the Santa Barbara City Council was out of touch with its constituent base on this issue.

Heather Poet, owner of the Santa Barbara Patients Group, said the city’s commitment to safe access for medical marijuana patients was upheld with the vote.

“It’s nice to see that Santa Barbara is as compassionate as I knew it is,” she said.

A yearlong ordinance revision process resulted in a three-dispensary cap and operational restrictions, but the strong divisions in community opinion led Councilman Dale Francisco to approve the ordinance on the condition of putting a ban on Tuesday’s ballot.

With the failure of Measure T, storefront dispensaries continue to be permissible under the guidelines of the ordinance. Though three are currently permitted, all but one — the Pacific Coast Collective — must shut down or receive new permits by the end of the year because they don’t conform to the new rules. There are already several businesses in line for those two permits.

Throughout the dispensary debate, two camps formed. Supporters included dispensary owners, patients and safe access advocates, while opponents included parents, school administrators and law enforcement.

Similar sides were taken during the Measure T campaign, as campaign funding showed.

City officials have said that putting the initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot cost an estimated $30,000 to $40,000.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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