Second Medical Pot Dispensary Opens in Santa Barbara

Took Nearly Four Years to Open Doors

The De la Vina doors of the Santa Barbara Collective medical marijuana dispensary opened earlier this week.
Paul Wellman

The Santa Barbara Collective opened its doors on upper De la Vina Street this week, making it the second medical marijuana dispensary within city limits in as many months. City Hall also awarded adult recreational retail cannabis permits to three operators earlier this year, but none of those will open until sometime next year.

It took the Collective nearly four years to open its doors, as it faced two appeals by neighbors concerned about crime and intoxicated riffraff. Such concerns were disputed not just by owner Ihab Ghannam but also by Santa Barbara Police spokesperson Anthony Wagner, who suggested the shop’s high-end wares would attract a more upscale clientele. Security requirements, however, are intense. Two security guards must be on the premises at any time, the front door is bulletproof, and the establishment is monitored by no fewer than 16 cameras. The Collective is licensed to sell to clientele 18 and older.

While there weren’t lines around the block the first day of business, Ghannam said, there was steady business. Ghannam said he will also offer home delivery. Like the owner of Canopy ​— ​a medical dispensary that opened recently on Milpas Street ​— ​Ghannam hopes to expand into the cannabis manufacturing business. Both medicinal dispensaries operate under rules unique to the City of Santa Barbara; first-time customers must present proof of identification and a doctor’s recommendation at least 24 hours before making the first purchase.

Ghannam has lived in Santa Barbara since 2008 and has operated a tobacco and smoke shop on Milpas Street. He said he got into the cannabis trade after a relative of his was forced to deal with cancer, with regular runs to Los Angeles to get cannabis for pain management. “It made her feel much better,” he said, “but it was a long way to drive.”

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