In a week, City Council will have a chance to adopt the massive Zoning Ordinance update, which includes standards for the allowance of two medical marijuana dispensaries.
But when, and where, are the dispensaries going to pop up?
If council adopts the ordinance at its next meeting on June 23, operators could apply for conditional use permits 30 days later. It’s unclear, at this time, how City Hall plans to deal with more than two applications, should they be submitted. Often, lottery systems when City Hall is giving out a limited number of popular permits but the Zoning Ordinance does mention a lottery.
Given the prevalence of dispensaries in the city of Los Angeles, it’s likely that the two permits will be highly sought after.
The dispensaries will have to operate within set zones along Wilshire Boulevard between Lincoln Boulevard and Centinela Avenue and along Santa Monica Boulevard from Lincoln to 20th Street and from 23rd Street to Centinela.
The ordinance allows dispensary owners to use up to 15 percent of their floor space to grow marijuana.
Bill Leahy, who heads Santa Monicans for Safe Access (SAMOSA), is very happy that the dispensaries made it into the ordinance.
“SAMOSA is indeed pleased with the compassionateness and progressiveness of Santa Monica’s residents, City Staff, Planning Commissioners and City Councilmembers,” he said in an email. “We believe that the ordinance is fair and reasonable. Also, SAMOSA believes that the issues surrounding security have been properly addressed.”
The Santa Monica Police Department warned against the allowance of dispensaries within the city limits, claiming that dispensaries — a largely cash business — could boost crime.
Last year, residents filed a petition with City Hall, seeking a ballot initiative that would allow dispensaries within the city. The petitioners never submitted any signatures and residents on both sides of the issue expressed dislike for that ordinance as it was proposed.
Later in the year, David Welch, the attorney who spoke on behalf of the residents who submitted the ballot initiative, said he’d give it another go.
The Daily Press reached out to Aaron Green, who’d previously acted as a spokesperson for the initiative, but Green said he’s no longer representing the group.
Welch did not respond to requests for comment.
The new dispensaries will not allow patients to get authorization cards on-site. They’ll have to be located at least 600 feet from childcare centers, parks, schools, libraries, social service centers, or other dispensaries.
The centers can be up to 2,500 square feet, meaning that up to 750 feet of Santa Monica dispensaries may legally be authorized for the growth of marijuana.
Code enforcement officers and police staff will conduct inspections to ensure compliance with the conditions of approval for a dispensary.
During council’s lengthy debate on the Zoning Ordinance, which will dictate land uses throughout the city for years to come, they agreed 5 to 2 to allow the dispensaries in the city. Councilmembers Terry O’Day and Pam O’Connor disagreed with the allowance.