|County Takes Next Step Toward Medical Marijuana|
Posted by CN Staff on February 07, 2007 at 07:46:03 PT|
By April Charlton, Senior Staff Writer
Source: Lompoc Record
San Luis Obispo, CA -- Because the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors allows a needle exchange program in the county, 4th District Supervisor Katcho Achadjian said he couldn't deny establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas.
“I never thought I'd be supporting this ... (but) the turning point for me was how could we allow a needle exchange (program) and not allow this,” Achadjian said during Tuesday's supervisors meeting, where the board voted 3-1 to amend the inland land use ordinance to allow the operation of dispensaries.
Achadjian made the motion to support the land use change - the last step in the amendment process in the inland unincorporated areas - and noted “this is probably not expected of me.”
Third District Supervisor Jerry Lenthall was the lone dissenting vote. He said he couldn't support the motion because his constituents in Avila Beach and Edna Valley don't want dispensaries in their neighborhoods.
“I feel I'm not doing my job if I don't honor their requests,” Lenthall said prior to the vote. “I just can't in good conscience support this.”
Because land use standards are different in the county's unincorporated Coastal Zone areas, staff will bring back another land use amendment specific to the Coastal Zone at a later date.
In July 2006, the supervisors voted 3-2 to add medical marijuana dispensaries to the county's land use ordinance, designating dispensaries as a general retail use.
At that time, the board also approved only allowing dispensaries in commercial retail and commercial services zoning areas.
County planner Bill Robeson told the supervisors that dispensaries - or cannabis clubs, as they're commonly called - won't be allowed to operate within central business districts.
“Central business districts are usually the downtowns of communities or the future downtowns ... with an expectation of high pedestrian traffic,” he said.
The board also limited where dispensaries could operate to within 1,000 feet of schools and youth and recreation centers in July. On Tuesday, the board also voted to include parks, playgrounds and libraries.
Additionally, they voted to increase the minimum age of dispensary employees from 18 to 21.
“They could be 18 and seniors in high school, but we allow them to work at a dispensary,” said Achadjian, who initiated the age increase.
The supervisors are also requiring applicants looking to open a dispensary apply for a minor use permit, at a cost of $4,000, and go through the public hearing process.
Californians passed Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act, in 1996, legalizing marijuana for medicinal use, although federal authorities continue to arrest and prosecute users under federal laws.
Source: Lompoc Record (CA)
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