CITY HALL — As the Planning Commission grapple with wonkier decisions about land-use rules, Santa Monica is still poised to allow two medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.
The newest iteration of the draft Zoning Code, which will dictate land use for years to come, includes the allowance of dispensaries, which are currently banned in Santa Monica.
Last month, the Planning Department released a redline of the draft Zoning Ordinance — a document that’s hundreds of pages long and shows changes that planning commissioners made during their last review of the proposed Zoning Ordinance.
The redline expands the borders in which a dispensary would be allowed but is more restrictive than the last draft when it comes to locating near a school, park, library, or social service center.
The dispensaries will be allowed to grow marijuana on-site but not issue recommendations for prescription.
Santa Monicans for Safe Access (SAMOSA), a medical marijuana advocacy group, is largely supportive of the proposal, with the exception of one recent change.
The current draft would require prospective operators to submit a security plan to the Santa Monica Police Department for approval.
“The plan shall include but not be limited to provisions for qualified security staffing, alarms, video monitoring, securing cash, controlled customer access, and other elements the Police Department deems necessary to ensure the security of the site,” the draft says.
SAMOSA is concerned that this language leaves standards for approval or rejection of a dispensary undefined. They’d like to see the security plan for dispensaries defined as similar to the security plans for an alcohol permit.
Responses from SMPD should be reasonable and timely, SAMOSA suggested.
Without language like this, SAMOSA founder Bill Leahy said in an e-mail to the Planning Commission “safe and reasonable access for the residents of Santa Monica may be stymied.”
In the commission’s previous consideration of this issue, the police department recommended against the allowance of dispensaries in the city, citing concerns about the possibility of increased crime. Dispensaries are largely a cash business.
Advocates of medical marijuana dispensaries refute the claim that they could lead to more crime.
In previous versions of the ordinance, a security plan was to be reviewed by the director of the Planning Department.
The Planning Commission is still in the midst of reviewing the draft of the zoning ordinance. It will pass the ordinance along to City Council for final consideration, likely later this year.
Council’s most vocal opponent of medical marijuana dispensaries, Bob Holbrook, retired last month after more than two decades on the dais.
His replacement, former Planning Commissioner Sue Himmelrich, voted in favor of allowing the dispensaries when the commission reviewed the document earlier this year.
Several members of council have expressed a willingness to allow two dispensaries within the city.
Earlier this year, two Santa Monica residents filed a petition with City Hall that, if signed by 15 percent of registered Santa Monica voters, would have put the issue on a ballot.
The proposal, which, if approved by voters, would have allowed two dispensaries within the city, was criticized by people on both sides of the issue. The deadline for submission passed without the filing of any signatures.
The group behind the petition claims it is going to modify the language of the proposal and try again.