Friday, April 10, 2009


The door is locked and a closed sign has been hung directly below the
small placard announcing the North County's only medical marijuana dispensary.

Wishing You Wellness, located at the north end of the Evergreen
Shopping Center on Orcutt Road in Orcutt, opened its doors about two
weeks ago to very little fanfare.

However, word of the dispensary leaked out last week to mixed public
opinion and just as suddenly the pot clinic disappeared.

"One day they were here and the next they were gone," said Connie
Jones, owner of the Mutt Hut, a dog grooming business next door to
Wishing You Wellness.

Owner Carol Boston of the nearby Evergreen Video said she thought the
marijuana dispensary closed because there had been too much attention.

"The owner said it was because of the permitting process, but I think
it was just too much pressure," Boston said. "It's just sad because
people really needed it. Now they have to go back to driving down to
Santa Barbara."

The owner of Wishing You Wellness was told late last week that the
county Planning Commission would need to make a determination of
approval for the facility to begin operations, according to planning staff.

Since then, the property owners of the Evergreen Shopping Center
decided to terminate the month-to-month tenancy, said Dianne Black,
county director of development services.

It is a crime under federal and state law to manufacture, distribute,
dispense or possess marijuana, but the state makes an exception for
the use of pot for medical purposes with a doctor's prescription.

No one answered the door at the marijuana dispensary Wednesday and
the co-owner of the Evergreen Shopping Center, Paul Prather, did not
return several calls requesting a comment.

In the time since California legalized medical marijuana
dispensaries, several that were established on the Central Coast have
shut down after their operations were disrupted by raids by federal agents.

Last month, however, there was a significant shift in federal policy
toward medical use of marijuana. It was announced that the Justice
Department will no longer prosecute pot dispensaries that operate
legally under state law, an about-face from the policies of the Bush

However, several Central Coast cities, such as Santa Maria, Buellton,
Arroyo Grande and Pismo Beach have passed ordinances banning medical
marijuana dispensaries within city limits.

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