The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission unanimously approved a cannabis dispensary conditional use permit Wednesday, which will be located at 4235 State St. as one of the six county-permitted dispensaries.
Unlike hearings for other cannabis dispensary proposals in unincorporated areas, there was nothing but supportive public comment during the hearing.
The Sunstone Cannabis Market, set to open in early 2024, will be an expansion of the Sunstone brand that includes Sunstone Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley.
The executive team includes locals John and Jordan Price, Teddy Cabugos III, and Benjamin Condron.
“This is a local team — as local as it can get — with a commitment to do right by this program and provide a really first-class experience,” said Gelare Macon with Flower & Associates. “They’re planning on hiring employees within the county, they want to support local nonprofits with a focus on youth.”
The project includes the demolition of an existing building, construction of a new 3,128-square-foot commercial retail building and trash enclosure, and — while not required within the land use development code — an odor abatement plan including carbon filtration throughout the building was also prepared.
“I have seen a lot of dispensaries and my sort of vague general impression is often they are in dingy buildings that are sort of half hidden and it’s like saying to the world ‘I’m sorry for being here, but I’ve got to be somewhere, and I apologize,’” Third District Commissioner John Parke said. “But when I see this, it says, ‘I’m classy, I’m proud to be here, I’m proud of my project. This is all good and welcome, come in,’ and I think that’s an important message.”
Once open, Sunstone Cannabis Market’s hours will be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days per week, and Macon said there will be an onsite security guard during business hours and a security camera system with 24-hour monitoring.
The team also boasted the far-reaching community support the project has received, such as from Congressman Salud Carbajal, Santa Barbara City Councilmember Mike Jordan, the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce, local nonprofits, and several neighboring businesses.
“Sunstone was the first winery Santa Barbara County permitted for a cannabis land use permit,” said Cabugos, president of Sunstone Winery. “We’re very proud of that fact for a number of reasons.”
Cabugos said the dispensary will highlight local brands, as well as Sunstone’s own products — which will include a cannabis-infused spritz, gummies, and more — and all products will be locally grown, processed, and manufactured within the county.
“At Sunstone we have, I think, a responsibility — but also the opportunity — to be able to educate customers, consumers, and potentially new cannabis consumers,” Cabugos said.
“It’s really important to us that we focus on Santa Barbara County and its cultivators and cannabis product producers. … We will literally be able to tell you which farm you would be drinking out of, where that cannabis came from.”