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Santa Barbara Revokes Medicinal-Marijuana Dispensary License

City officials say action came after management team attempted to shuffle owners without city consent

A medical marijuana dispensary at 3617 State St. that attempted to shift around its leadership had its license revoked by the city of Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
A medical marijuana dispensary at 3617 State St. that attempted to shift around its leadership had its license revoked by the city of Santa Barbara. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

A medical-marijuana dispensary that attempted to shift around its leadership had its license revoked by the city of Santa Barbara.

The city’s staff hearing officer revoked the license over the summer and the Planning Commission recently reaffirmed the decision.

“The entity could have reapplied with new applicants,” said Assistant City Attorney Scott Vincent. “They should have come back to the city and asked to changed the members. There was no request to change the management members.”

The commission vote was 6-0, with member Michael Jordan absent.

Joe Allen, CFO and CEO of the Santa Barbara Patients Collective and Healing Center at 3617 State St., filed an application in December 2015 to make Eric Anderson the secretary of the corporation.

Anderson, according to the city, was never identified as part of the approved management as a member of the collective. On April 4, 2016, Alien also submitted a revised operating plan, changing the name to Apothecary of Santa Barbara, Inc.

The operating plan also removed Greg McGee and Matt Armor as management members and replaced them with Anderson and Lorenzo Diaz.

Then on April 6 Allen said he voluntarily resigned from the Santa Barbara Patients' Collective and Healing Center. Per the agreement with the city, the Planning Commission must sign off on any changes to the management team.

Not knowing the new people involved, the city decided to revoke the permit.

“We want to have a stricter control when we are dealing with medical-marijuana dispensaries,” said Tava Ostrenger, assistant city attorney. “They also have to undergo background checks.”

Collective Attorney Luis Esparza called the decision “a huge miscarriage of justice,” and that his clients did nothing wrong. There was no attempt to change anything.”

Planning Commissioner Addison Thompson said what happened was a “falling out” among the original dispensary owners and now they “want the city to fix this.”

Commissioner Deborah Schwartz said the real tragedy is that the dispensary won’t open and people won’t have access to their medicine.

“We have members of our community who are in great pain and legitimately need to avail themselves of it,” Schwartz said, adding that “it is unfortunate that there has been member/owner infighting.”

Vincent said the the parties involved could re-apply for a permit, but “there are other pending applications, and here’s no provision in the ordinance that provides them to go to the head of the line.”

Santa Barbara only allows three medical marijuana dispensaries. Two others are permitted, but have not yet opened.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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