Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Santa Barbara Medical Marijuana News
County hearing on pot dispensary fizzles
By Sam Womack/Staff Writer/swomack@ syvnews.com
September 15, 2009
An appeal hearing on a marijuana dispensary came to a grinding halt last
week when the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission was told there
may be no lease agreement — a prerequisite for this land-use change.
The proposed Wellness Center Commercial Center, a medicinal marijuana
dispensary, applied for a minor land-use amendment with a signed lease
agreement for space in the Orcutt Trade Center at 125 W. Clark Ave.
However, upon being informed that the new business was a pot clinic in
addition to a retail outlet for nutritional supplements and herbal
medicines, Greti Croft, the building owner, canceled the lease
In an e-mail dated July 21, Croft wrote to the project's agent,
Jackie Rodriguez, "We are not renting to you for the reasons we
talked about .... We would have never approved a marijuana
William Wolf represented the Wellness Center project and argued against
the appeal, but he was not questioned as to the lease agreement.
Wolf, an attorney with an office at 940 E. Main St., would not answer a
After realizing that whole appeal process may be moot, the commission
voted unanimously to continue the issue to Oct. 21 in order to give
county staff time to determine if there is a valid lease.
The commission members also asked staff to meet with the Sheriff's
Department to determine the security issues that could rise should
marijuana be stored in the Orcutt Trade Center.
A business plan switch from the Wellness Center proved to be another
snag in the process.
Previously, patients 18 years or older with a valid identification,
prescription and Wellness Center membership card could pick up their
marijuana on site.
But the adjusted plan would hike the age limit to 30 years, and the
product would be stored at the office site, then delivered to the
patient, according to county planning staff.
Staff members admitted that there had not been enough time to
investigate if the site's newly proposed role as storage would
change the details of the land-use permit.
A handful of Orcutt residents attended the hearing, and some lamented
that the community showing had been so small.
"I'm disappointed more people didn't come out; a big show of
support is everything at these meetings," said Gene Baird, commander
of the America Legion Orcutt Post 534 — one of the five appellants
opposed to the pot clinic.
He added that while he was relatively confident that this particular
project would be turned down, there is no county ban preventing the
Wellness Center from leasing office space elsewhere in Orcutt.
"The problem is that it's a permitted use," said Baird, who
argued that if Santa Maria, Buellton and Guadalupe can ban dispensaries
within city limits, then why can't the county pass a similar
ordinance for the unincorporated communities.
The appeal claimed that medical marijuana is illegal under federal law;
the dispensary would invite more drugs and drug users into the
community; and the proposed location is near schools and it has
However, in response to the appellants' claims, planning staff
maintained that "the proposed project is consistent with other uses
allowed in this zone district."
Several people who spoke in support of the appeal Tuesday specified that
they did not oppose using marijuana for medical purposes. They just
prefer that the drug be dispensed at a pharmacy or hospital as opposed
to an unsecured office space.
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