County planners okay medical pot dispensary
July 9, 2015
By DANIEL BLACKBURN
The San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission approved a use permit allowing establishment of a Nipomo medical marijuana dispensary on Thursday.
Following a three-hour hearing, the commission voted 3-1 to move the long-debated Ethnobotanica facility onto a fast track to opening. Commissioner Jim Harrison, who represents District 4 which includes Nipomo, cast the lone dissenting vote.
Opponents have the opportunity to appeal the decision to county supervisors; without such an appeal, the dispensary would be endowed with final approval.
“We were confident we would prevail here, and we anticipate prevailing on appeal,” said San Luis Obispo attorney Lou Koory, who represents Ethnobotanica.
The dispensary, which would be the county’s first, will be located at 2122 Hutton Road, in an industrial complex.
As approved, the Ethnobotanica plan will call for a seven-hour business day, opening at 11 a.m. seven days a week. After two years, the operation will be reexamined by planners to determine if all conditions of the use permit are being met. Additional security measures were added by the commission. Also, no online or paraphernalia sales will be allowed.
Ethnobotanica owner Stephanie Kiel said her business will be operated properly. “We are unique,” she said.
The matter came before the commission, according to planning staff, because of “considerable public controversy.”
Only a handful of people spoke against the application, while supporters and Ethnobotanica employees enthusiastically endorsed it.
The commission found that the application met all standards required by law, including its unique location — more than 1,000 feet from preschools, elementary and high schools, libraries, parks, playgrounds, and recreation or youth centers.
Noting that the South County Advisory Council opposed the project, resident Hans Hansen told commissioners that “Santa Maria gangs will have easy access to the dispensary. All you need is a couple of bad guys with guns waiting for the delivery truck.”