The Solvang City Council on Monday voted to allow one medical marijuana dispensary in the commercial zone along Highway 246 which it approved for medical marijuana businesses two months ago.
City Manager Brad Vidro said after the city approved medical cannabis in the C3 zone — an area primarily on the south side of Highway 246 across from Skytt Mesa Drive — in August, the council needed to determine how many dispensaries it was going to allow by a council resolution.
The August decision addressed an expiring urgency ordinance that prohibited all marijuana businesses in the city.
Since medical marijuana businesses were approved for that specific zone, Vidro said city staff has received eight inquiries about the location and that applicants expressed concerns about the economic viability of allowing only medical businesses.
Councilor Joan Jamieson wanted to know what Grover Beach was doing, after city staff made a trip to visit the city.
City Attorney Dave Fleishman said Grover Beach, which has allowed recreational dispensaries, is proactive and welcoming to businesses at the city level.
“Their regulatory structure is significantly more developed because they are allowing recreational,” he said.
Fleishman said there’s a fair amount of money coming into the city as a result.
Councilor Karen Waite said she’d like to take an inaction on the issue, because the city hadn’t gone through a whole vetting process of candidates.
“I think we have more work to do in researching the whole process,” Waite said. “I’d like to hear more from our consultants on it.”
Waite said she wants the public to understand that the dispensaries aren’t going to be grow houses.
“I think there is a confusion with the public that they feel that the cannabis dispensaries are going to be grow houses and that people will be smelling cannabis for miles around,” Waite said.
Fleishman said the businesses in Grover Beach have an air lock system as a security measure, but it also controls the smell.
“We anticipate that a dispensary coming to Solvang would exhibit the same type of professionalism,” Fleishman said.
Zimmerman made a motion to approve three dispensaries. His motion died because no one seconded it.
There was one public commenter at Monday’s meeting.
Mary Garvey said she was visiting from Los Angeles and wanted to know if the councilors were motivated by profit or by providing a medical service to the community.
“I think the fundamental question is: are you providing a service for your citizens or are you a money-making opportunity?” she asked.
Jamieson noted that the city had only approved medical not recreational marijuana.
Councilor Ryan Toussaint also said he was expecting more of a vetting process and was worried that the city was putting the cart before the horse.
Toussaint moved to approve one dispensary. Jamieson seconded.
Richardson made a substitute motion to approve zero.
He said he had talked to many constituents that are totally opposed to a dispensary. Richardson said the health benefits of the plant are in the CBD, which can already be purchased at the health food store.
No one seconded Richardson’s motion.
“And I expected I wouldn’t get a second,” Richardson said.
Toussaint’s motion passed with Richardson as the sole dissenting vote.