Council Gives Pot Shops More Time to Move

In hopes of making two federal lawsuits disappear, the Santa Barbara City Council voted to give two medical marijuana dispensaries — one on Milpas Street and the other on Olive Street — up to four years to find new locations.

The two dispensaries are on solid enough legal grounds that they’ve both won preliminary victories against City Hall for trying to shut them down. In part, their appeals rested on the premise that City Hall did not give them adequate time to find new quarters that would comply with the terms of the city’s medical marijuana ordinance, passed last year. Both shops had obtained legal operating permits after having gone through the city’s legal review process, but that was before the new ordinance went into effect. Neither shop could be legal under the new ordinance in their current locations.

The owners sued and persuaded a federal judge that they would likely prevail if and when the case went to trial. To forestall that from happening, City Attorney Steve Wiley persuaded the council to amend the pot shop ordinance to allow the owners four years to recoup their investment and find new digs. Whether that proves sufficient for both owners remains to be seen; Wiley said one of the owners had demanded five years, not four.

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