Santa Monica Lookout
B e s t   l o c a l   s o u r c e   f o r   n e w s   a n d   i n f o r m a t i o n

Santa Monica to Explore Locations, Requirements for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

July 23, 2015 -- With medical marijuana dispensaries now allowed under Santa Monica’s new zoning code, the City is expected to start discussing how best to “allocate” them and possibly require that they offer free or discounted services for some patients.

A motion before the Council Tuesday would direct staff to look into the best allocation of the new businesses, “including provisions adopted in other communities. The motion does not attempt “to reduce standards,” but to “increase” them, said Mayor Kevin McKeown.

“As we enter this new realm in Santa Monica, we want to make sure the applicant selection process favors the most responsible and neighborhood-sensitive operators,” said McKeown, who along with Council members Gleam Davis and Ted Winterer, are making the motion.

“I've also become aware other cities have legislated accommodations for the elderly, persons with disabilities, and others on constrained incomes, and I want to explore that for Santa Monica."

Paul Foley, the City’s principal planner, said no applications for dispensaries have been submitted yet. The new zoning ordinance itself does not take effect until Friday, he said.

Before any applications can be considered, the Council needs to decide on a process for granting them, which is the aim of the upcoming motion, Foley said.

“It will take some time,” he said.

After years of debating whether medical marijuana dispensaries belonged in Santa Monica, the City Council approved two as part of its long-debated new zoning ordinance in June.

Each shop can be up to 2,500 square feet, with no more than 15 percent of its floor space used to grow marijuana.

In addition, the dispensaries can only operate within set areas along Santa Monica and Wilshire boulevards east of Lincoln.

Despite its progressive leanings, Santa Monica for years refused to allow medical marijuana dispensaries, even as they were popping up throughout Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Malibu.

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.

The Council heeded such concerns three years ago and imposed a moratorium. The issue came to the fore again in May, when two residents filed initiative paperwork to allow two dispensaries in the city. No signatures were ever filed.

In the end, the dispensaries were allowed as part of the City’s zoning ordinance update, with little opposition.         

Back to Lookout News copyrightCopyright 1999-2015 All Rights Reserved. EMAIL Disclosures