Santa Monica Lookout
|Medical Marijuana Dispensaries to Be Allowed under Proposed Santa Monica Zoning Law|
By Niki Cervantes
June 19, 2015 -- After years of debating whether medical marijuana dispensaries have a place in Santa Monica, the City Council is set to approve two as part of a new zoning ordinance that will go before the Council on June 23.
In addition, the dispensaries can only operate within set areas along Santa Monica and Wilshire boulevards east of Lincoln, said David Martin, director of Planning and Community Development for Santa Monica.
Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown was strongly supportive.
“Just yesterday I got an email from a wheelchair-bound resident in her 70s, grateful that having dispensaries nearby will make possible access to her prescribed marijuana for pain, where nothing else works as effectively for her,” he said.
“We authorized medical marijuana dispensaries, not recreational, and yes, there is a need in our community,” McKeown said. “We have strictly limited the locations to just two, and the new code requires stringent controls and security.”
Santa Monica held out for several years on allowing medical marijuana dispensaries, which have proliferated in Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Malibu and elsewhere.
Officials, particularly police, worried that the largely cash businesses would attract crime. Some were concerned that the dispensaries would be frequented by customers who didn’t really need the drug for medicinal reasons.
Three years ago, the City Council headed the concerns and passed a moratorium on permits for dispensaries.
Last May, two residents filed initiative paperwork to allow two dispensaries in the city, but no signatures were filed by the end of the 180-day deadline.
According to Sarah Gorman, Santa Monica’s city clerk, a notice of intent to collect signatures was filed but withdrawn in April.
Instead of through a ballot initiative, the operation of the dispensaries could now be approved as part of the City’s long-debated new zoning code, with officials crafting the provision with enough restrictions to address previous concerns, officials said.
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