The ongoing debate over city-based medical marijuana dispensaries continued Tuesday during another Ordinance Committee hearing on the issue. No one under 21 should be allowed in medical marijuana dispensaries unless accompanied by a parent or adult, argued City Councilmember Grant House in response to concerns raised by school administrators that students were selling or sharing their medically prescribed cannabis on campus. (Dispensary owner Patrick Fourmy suggested the schools have a far bigger barbiturate problem than a marijuana problem, but admitted stricter age restrictions would be reasonable.) In addition, House argued that dispensaries should not be permitted in mixed-use developments that are already occupied by residents. He was responding to concerns voiced by condo residents of Paseo Chapala where a new dispensary-The Farmacy-is seeking permission to operate.
Councilmember Dale Francisco endorsed House’s suggestions, while pointing out that cities are not obligated to allow dispensaries at all; Santa Barbara is the only city in Santa Barbara County to do so. Councilmember Das Williams voiced reservations about the proposed mixed-use prohibition and age restriction. Williams noted if 18-year-olds could “get killed in Afghanistan,” they were old enough to go to a dispensary on their own. By the end of the hearing, the committee recommended capping the number of dispensaries to no more than seven locations spread throughout the city. Das Williams estimated there currently are 13 dispensaries operating, both legal and nonconforming and outright illegal, and that six will remain if and when the ordinance is adopted. The matter must go to the council as a whole before any ordinance can be enacted.