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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on December 16th, 2009, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 10, Issue 40 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 10, Issue 40

County moves to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries


Despite the Obama administration’s recent decision to halt raids of medicinal marijuana dispensaries operating legally under state laws, Santa Barbara County is one step closer to enacting a temporary ban on the controversial pot shops.
On Dec. 8, the county’s Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to move forward with an ordinance putting a moratorium on new dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the county.

 With the ordinance’s co-sponsor, 4th District Supervisor Joni Gray, absent due to illness, the board listened to public comments on the issue at the meeting.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown supported the moratorium. Dispensaries

have been linked to an increase in crime, he said, and the discrepancy between state and federal law regarding the legality of the drug places police in an awkward position.

An opponent of a moratorium said his mother is a cancer patient who drives to Santa Barbara to have her marijuana prescription filled.

“It’s something that we’ve all agreed that we want, yet certain communities are finding reasons to ban them,” he said. “I want to find out what their concerns are other than safety or crime because that’s not an issue. If anything, we bring more safety to the communities by doing this. We’re taking the drugs off the streets and putting it in the hands of doctor-recommended patients. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Supervisor Gray told the Sun in an interview on Dec. 15 that she was concerned about the possibility of dispensaries opening in areas close to schools and called the moratorium a “fishing expedition.”

“The county needs to have some type of definition of where this particular type of business can be located,” she said. “That’s really the long and short of this.”

The board has ordered County Counsel Dennis Marshall to return with an ordinance by Jan. 19.

Currently, six counties in California have moratoriums on the books. According to County Planner Joyce Gerber, as of now, there are no restrictions or special permits needed for opening a dispensary in the unincorporated county’s retail zones.

Santa Maria, Lompoc, and most other cities in the county already have moratoriums or outright bans on dispensaries. However, three dispensaries are already operating in unincorporated areas, and recent attempts have been made to open shops in Santa Ynez, Los Olivos, and Orcutt.

Plans for a dispensary in Old Town Orcutt fell through earlier this year after Orcutt Trade Center property owner Greti Croft canceled a lease agreement with the shop’s permit holders.

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