The Santa Barbara County and Montecito Planning Commissions voted to approve an ordinance to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the county during last week’s meeting.
On Oct. 4, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 against the Commissions’ prior proposal, which allowed storefronts to operate under certain location and usage guidelines, in favor of instituting a complete ban. The plan originated after the board placed a moratorium — a legal waiting period set to expire Dec. 6 — on all storefront dispensaries.
According to SBC Planning Commissioner Michael Cooney, collectives would provide the only option under the new proposal for obtaining medical cannabis.
“They are not subject to zoning and land ordinances,” Cooney said. “The county is not in a position to govern those collectives.”
First-year physics major and marijuana collective member Alec Aivazis said the nonprofit organizations ensure that patients receive fair service.
“The main difference between a dispensary and a collective is that a dispensary is a business; it is making profit,” Aivazis said. “At a collective, you get charged whatever it takes to grow the marijuana.”
Individual doctors usually staff collectives and allow members to help trim, weigh and price the plants, according to Aivazis.
“Collectives add a nice way to keep medical marijuana ideals and get people the marijuana they need,” Aivazis said. “I have a med card, but the shutting down of dispensaries wouldn’t affect me at all.”
Although the board will make the final call on the proposed ban, Cooney said cardholders should explore alternatives to local storefront locations.
“My view is that while the Board of Supervisors is the agency that gets to decide whether these dispensaries exist in the county or not, as a planning commissioner, it would be my preference to … figure out safe places for dispensaries to exist in the south county and the north county to legitimately buy medicinal marijuana,” Cooney said.
The board will vote on the ban at its Nov. 1 meeting. If approved, the ban will take effect 30 days later.