The Santa Barbara City Council considered new regulations for local medical marijuana dispensaries this week.
A city council ordinance committee has proposed 10 changes to the current law, including a proposition capping the number of dispensaries allowed in the city to seven. Currently, there are no limitations on the number of shops. Other proposals would prevent shops from selling marijuana to known drug dealers and designate certain areas for operation.
Danny Kato, a Santa Barbara city planner, said the council specifically tasked the Ordinance Committee with exploring possible changes in the law.
“At some point, it’s going to have to go back to the council for the bigger issue of ‘is this all we really want to do?'” Kato said. “Do we just want to strengthen our land use ordinance? Do we want to do something bigger like enforce all the provisions of Prop 215, or something much smaller, like ban dispensaries outright?”
The proposal to cap the number of dispensaries in the city would establish seven separate zones where shops could operate, allowing only one shop in each zone.
Other proposals would make it illegal for dispensaries to exist in the same building as any other business or residence.
To prevent the illegal sale of medical marijuana, the committee proposed that a list of known drug dealers be circulated to shops. Shops found selling to dealers would lose their dispensing license.
The committee also proposed that existing shops should be given six months to comply with any new laws passed by the council.
The City of Santa Barbara began regulating dispensaries in 2004, eight years after California legalized the medicinal use of marijuana with the passage of Proposition 215. Current law allows dispensaries in designated areas along State Street and Milpas Road.
Thirteen dispensaries now operate legally in the city.