Green Well

Paul Wellman (file)

Green Well

Pot Shop Calls It Quits in Lawsuit with City Hall

Green Well Dispensary Gets $75,000 to Offset Legal Costs

Originally published 6:00 a.m., December 18, 2013
Updated 4:00 p.m., December 18, 2013
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In its ongoing legal battle with Green Well medical marijuana dispensary — formerly located at 500 North Milpas Street — Santa Barbara City Hall appears to have dodged what could have been a damaging bullet. Several weeks ago, dispensary owners agreed to call it quits in exchange for $75,000 to help defray legal expenses accrued while trying to fight City Hall. The terms of the agreement were surprising given that Green Well owners spent nearly $300,000 in legal fees and initially appeared to have an ironclad case.

The Green Well opened for business in January 2010 after reportedly spending $400,000 and nine months securing all the necessary city permits to legally open shop. In addition, Green Well’s owners at the time — James Lee and Nate Reinke — bent over backward to ingratiate themselves with the community, leading cleanup drives and donating to the neighborhood clinics. But in response to growing opposition to storefront marijuana dispensaries, the City Council voted to change the rules of the game and, in so doing, effectively put Green Well out of business. When Green Well was first approved, city regulations required dispensaries to be 500 feet from the nearest school. The dispensary, located 532 feet from Santa Barbara Junior High, complied. But the new language required a separation of at least 600 feet.

Initially, City Hall offered the owners — who have since parted ways — a 180-day grace period, but in the face of intense skepticism by the judge reviewing the case, expanded that to a four-year phaseout period. Whether that would be sufficient to inoculate City Hall from legal attack became moot last May when officials with the Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Justice Department called a meeting with property owners renting space to Santa Barbara’s dispensaries and threatened them with legal action if they did not evict their tenants. To show they were serious, federal officials initiated legal actions to seize the property of three dispensary landlords. Law enforcement officials refer to this event as “The Great Shutdown,” and almost overnight, Santa Barbara’s once flourishing dispensary scene disappeared.

City Attorney Steve Wiley argued the federal government, not City Hall, was responsible for whatever financial losses Green Well suffered. He also argued that Green Well did not operate in accordance with California’s notoriously vague rules and regulations governing such dispensaries. The dispensaries, according to Wiley and a number of court rulings, must provide a modicum of medical care and guidance and cannot simply be retail moneymaking operations. Storefront dispensaries could meet the requirements of state law, he said, if they functioned similarly to a doctor’s office. Wiley said he was prepared to demonstrate that Green Well operated simply as a ka-ching machine with thousands of customers.

Reinke, however, still feels cheated by the whole experience. “The city did everything they are capable of to drag this case out and bleed us to death,” he said in an email Wednesday afternoon. “It worked. Without any source of revenue the Cooperative was unable to pay the legal team. … We were facing the chance of having to either release the names of the cultivators or my attorney being sanctioned tens of thousands of dollars for redacting the names from the bank records. Neither if these was worth risking so we settled for pennies on the dollar.”

As a matter of law, the City of Santa Barbara’s medical marijuana ordinance still allows for up to three dispensaries within city limits. As a practical matter, many in the medical marijuana business say they’ve been waiting for Wiley to retire at the end of the year before exploring their options. The city attorney, they contend, has waged a legal campaign to put them out of business. Wiley has shrugged off such suggestions, insisting that the federal government — not City Hall — is the real obstacle to any resurgent dispensary action.

In the meantime, the medical marijuana business has hardly disappeared. As dispensaries shut their doors, home-delivery services have popped up to take their place. Some are operated by former dispensaries; many are not. There are no solid statistics, but anecdotally, there could be about a dozen serving the South Coast. Some that specialize in precise formulations of edible pot deliver from as far away as San Diego.

While such services are considered illegal, for the most part they don’t show up on law enforcement’s radar screen. Santa Barbara police report no arrests or incidents involving medical marijuana deliveries, though spokesperson Sergeant Riley Harwood suggested those in the trade are at risk of being robbed. “It happens to people delivering pizza,” he said, “and these people are carrying something considerably more valuable.” Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested one delivery driver last month in the Santa Ynez Valley, but it appears the suspect was pulled over in a routine traffic stop. The California Highway Patrol, however, is the lead agency in a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement effort targeting the pot trade known as Saber Net. At least one suspected medical marijuana delivery service has been on the receiving end of Saber Net raids, but the take was too small for any charges to be filed.

Whether more or less marijuana is being sold and smoked throughout Santa Barbara since the dispensaries have closed remains anyone’s guess. Anecdotal reports suggest that prices, at least, have dropped. What impact all this has had on Santa Barbara’s crime profile defies quantification, said Sgt. Harwood. “I think it comes down to a matter of feelings, and we can’t keep statistics on feelings,” he said. When the dispensary trade was flourishing, he said, many residents reported “feeling” unsettled by “some of the less than savory characters” making up the walk-in trade. “Whether it was real or imagined,” he said, “the fear associated with these enterprises is no longer there.”

This article was last updated at 4 p.m. on December 18.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Good riddance.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 8:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, I feel so much safer now. Don't you?

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 9:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

foo, it's amazing you can spout a certain kind of economic freedom out of the one side of your mouth with economic tyranny coming right out the other..

loonpt (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 9:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Just another good business cornholed by das williams and other scum bags running this silly city into the ground gread riddance to you

Byrd (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 10:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Good ole business-friendly Santa Babylon...well...if you are a tourist-oriented business or a bar of some kind...yeah, SB is a great place to be. Everyone else get the heck out...and if ya don't do as you're told, the powers that be will just outspend you and push you out anyway.

SB is so worried about pot shops...but bars...yeah...more bars...yup...SB needs more bars.

The hypocrisy boggles.

Holly (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 10:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The prices have gone down since the shops closed?

pointssouth (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 10:53 a.m. (Suggest removal)

loonpit, you need to stop labeling others by your own stereotypes. It causes your brain to implode. Be more flexible in your outlook on life, people and peruse your own deep authenticity for yourself alone. Which means you may have to lay off the pot for while.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 11:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

city hall and dea.... hand in hand to make the streets safe for Mexican drug cartels! at least it's more exiting to hear reports on guns and smack!

touristunfriendly (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 11:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Take note of the tax windfalls accruing to state government entities due to increasing property values.

Making communities safe, clean and productive benefits everyone because this is an excellent property value enhancement and provides one of the best returns on investment on every level. The more property taxes taken in, the more real money for schools.

Letting communities degrade, get blighted, destroy retail and divert more property off the tax rolls makes a community sicken and die. SB will lose out on this current upturn in property taxes, because it has already taken too much of its real estate out the free market. Oh well.

Goleta and the county will do well; but Santa Barbara will not. Thank you city council members for shooting this city in the foot with your social utopian agenda that helped no one and has harmed many.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 11:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

You're such a central planner, foo..

loonpt (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 11:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Label me somewhere between a libertarian and a social utopian, loon pit. At any given time, issue or position.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 11:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The spokesperson for prohibition in this thread adequately illustrates the insanity, avarice and delusion fueling that effort.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 12:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If California really wants to have its medical marijuana law obeyed by the Federal Courts and the DEA off their backs, they HAVE to move away from the recreational method of application and go pharmaceutical. Put in a pill or a chemical oral (cough medicine), liquid. Smoking is great if your reliving the good old days of "Stoner Heaven", but it will get you busted like a 'crack' addict.
First and foremost revamp the Law to read more clearer in regards to:
1) Developing the Growth and Harvesting of Medical Marijuana.
2) The Procurement, Transportation and Distribution of medical marijuana.
3) The Ingesting, Application, and Disposal of used Medical Marijuana.
The Law is written with faulty language and shaky definition as to the Three above contexts which leads to false execution of the Law by the Commoner and Small business operator.
Still this could all be avoided by going all Pharmaceutical and providing a pill, capsule or tablet form of a regulated THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) for suffers but keep recreational users from abuse (to some degree).

dou4now (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 12:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Exactly, dou4now.

And no more mass group "medical" authorizations just by merely checking off a laundry list of complaints. That'll be $150 please, thank you very much.

Treat this as valid drug for proven medical efficacy with all the FDA demands, requirements and labeling; not as a joke.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 12:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

foo is both a central planner and thus incipient socialist, yet he states "Be more flexible in your outlook on life, people and.." in lecturing others!
Likely less crime if these shops are allowed and scrutinized carefully.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 12:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

In fact there was less crime when the dispensaries were open.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 1:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"The Latin American country of Uruguay has become the first nation to fully legalize marijuana. Marijuana's use was already permitted in Uruguay, but on Tuesday the country's senate voted to also fully legalize its growth and sale. Starting next April, you can be able to buy pot at pharmacies for $1 a gram. The move was aimed at reducing the influence of drug cartels and increasing tax revenue."
Imagine $4 1/8s. Nobody who is making $ off pot wants that = Delivery, shops, dea, government, growers, prison owners.

spacey (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 1:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Over and over again we hear talk about needing to put cannabis in a 'pill' form from uneducated people who think that THC is the ingredient that will be in the pill.

THC by itself is not very medicinal, although it has been shown to shrink cancerous tumors, the majority of benefits that medicinal users see come from the CBDs or cannabinoids which help regulate various hormones and regulatory systems in the body and is what helps people with a wide array of medical conditions. THC has been in prescription pill form for almost 2 decades, it is called marinol and it doesn't work. On the other hand, medicinal cannabis users find that various strains of cannabis that have various levels of THC and all of the hundreds of different types of CBDs work better for them than other strains, but it is different for everybody. Why we would want a one size fits all solution makes no sense.

There are also plenty of people who use medicinal cannabis orally by making them into edible food preparations. But this may not be the best way for all users to ingest as it does not allow users to receive immediate benefits or titrate their dosage. For this, users can choose to vaporize and/or smoke small amounts of high grade cannabis buds through a water filtration system called a bong. Smoking high quality cannabis by itself in small to moderate doses does no harm to the lungs, it is widely used by serious athletes and in fact some studies show cannabis users have less instances of lung cancer than non-smokers. But for those who are concerned, you can skip the smoke and still vaporize your cannabis and receive no smoke in your lungs.

Finally, there's this funny thing called "freedom" that we are supposed to have, and I believe one can see why we do not have it by how many people in this thread have absolutely no comprehension of what it means. LEAVE ME ALONE!!

loonpt (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 1:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Where is the reporting? Where are the questions of who, when, where, what, and why?

Who wants to close business down?

When will businesses be allowed open forum?

I believe the Cal grant was approved for $500,000 with a matching grant for a special gang task force at the city hall meeting earlier this week.

I noticed that there were issues on another matter in which families were struggling to live at their current residency which is owned by a landlord who has allowed his property to deteriorate physically and raise potential hazards in question. Is a pooled $25,000 enough for those who cannot afford legal aid?

$500,000 is a lot of money and I see kids who could use the money and attention.

When did logic become logical fallacies?
- Kids are going to abuse substances to address any physical, emotional, or psychological wounds. Perhaps they do not understand how the physiology of the body functions with additional chemicals that alter the state-of-mind. Perhaps they do not know how to reason and channel the energy that drives their emotions. Perhaps they had never had the experience of someone sit down with kindness and heart - instead of a premeditated goal - to genuinely listen and help them. They get cannabis with or without laws. Whoever is on the other end always makes a profit - whether it is a system of lobbyists, cartels, or small business owners.

Somebody makes more money but it is not the children or their families.

Who is going to help the underlying issues that make kindness and compassion trivial in modern media - industrialized Santa Barbara?

WhoopWhoop805 (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 2:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Alot more crime.

Byrd (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 3:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Marijuana is a crop, which when is harvested, usually brings the price down. Prices are sure to go higher as the supply from the harvests dwindle.
Since the fed's threats and needless raids, prices have continually climbed...

We have since heard from Chief Sanchez (star of the Honduras numero uno reality show "On Patrol") that Mexican drug cartels might have gained a foothold in the south coast.

It's law enforcement's need for sensationalized media reports that keeps these raids against dispensaries going....

Busting pot shops is safe and easy. Why risk shooting it out with the bad guys when the cable company will pay to see police busting an eighty year old cancer patient?

touristunfriendly (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 3:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sure hope those that complain they can't afford live in in Santa Barbara don't spend their money on dope or booze. Or cigarettes, tattoos or lottery tickets and trips to the Chumash casino. You just blew your down payment.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 5:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Foo, you're the guy always ranting about the Chumash on EdHat arent you? Man, you're one heck of a putz...

The people have spoken and yet the morons in power continue their which hunt. Good thing it will be moot in a year or two when the issue is once again on the state ballot. This time it will pass and marijuana will be legal. And just like Washington and Colorado, it will cause no increase in anything other than happiness and tax revenues.

Then all the ignorant, moronic indoctrinated fools whose understanding of the issue is derived from Nancy Reagan, DARE and few propagandizing TV commercials, will wither away in their misery and die off like the dinosaurs they are...

The Green Room was run by good folks, they sold a great product and they followed the law. Unlike the rest of you morons, they actually gave back to the community and provided a much needed service to the ill. And as if the number of marijuana users declined or the availability of the product... nope. Everything just went underground where the tax man cannot touch it.

Another stellar example of the hypocrisy of modern America.

iamsomeguyinsb (anonymous profile)
December 19, 2013 at 10:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I am all for funding on-way tickets to Uruguay.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 19, 2013 at 10:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Great, we'll charge them all to your credit card.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2013 at 1:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Foofighter: What are your thoughts regarding the fact that marijuana was legal in the United States until 1937?

As an aside, Uruguay is not a Socialist country like The Netherlands, but more of a Libertarian country.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2013 at 1:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

$840 will buy a one-way ticket on TACA to Montevideo. You can pick up a nice house for a couple hundred grand, great weather, glamorus life around Punte d'Este, and they only want proof of $700 a monthly income for a permanent stay.

Pot smoking heaven. Beats paying $46,000 a year to put pot smokers in Calif jails.

BC: what are your thoughts about the potency of pot in 1937?

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2013 at 4:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Other than what I've seed in Reefer Madness, I can't remember,,,I wasn't born until 1961.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
December 21, 2013 at 12:27 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Chaplin seems to have liked it, Louis Armstrong and Jolson too.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 21, 2013 at 12:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants
Patent #6630507
Oct. 3, 2003
assignee: The United States of America as represented by
the Department of Health and Human Services
Washington, DC

for use in treating ischemic, age-related, inflammatory, and autoimmune diseases.


14noscams (anonymous profile)
December 28, 2013 at 8:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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