Nipomo marijuana dispensary proponents lose legal battle
December 17, 2016
The owners of Ethnobotanica, a marijuana service seeking to open a pot shop in Nipomo, lost a lawsuit they filed against San Luis Obispo County over the board of supervisors’ decision to reject a proposed brick and mortar dispensary in Nipomo.
On Nov. 3, 2015, the board voted 3-2 against a proposal to open a 2,500-square foot medical marijuana dispensary near the Santa Barbara County line because of crime and traffic concerns. Supervisors Bruce Gibson and Adam Hill dissented arguing Ethnobotanica could file a costly lawsuit if the board turned down the proposal.
“I think we’re gonna get sued, and that may not be a bad thing,” Hill said.
SLO County has an ordinance that allows medical marijuana dispensaries under certain conditions. However, county supervisors have rejected all four dispensary proposals that have come before the board since the adoption of the ordinance.
On Jan. 4, San Luis Obispo attorney Babak Nacify filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ryan Booker and Stephanie Kiel, who co-own Ethnobotanica. Booker has maintained a leadership role with the nonprofit, despite having his lengthy criminal history come to light.
The lawsuit claimed the county abused its discretion because the denial of the project was not supported by substantial evidence. Rather, three supervisors voted to deny the dispensary based on vague and generalized concerns, the suit says.
In a Dec. 5 tentative ruling, Superior Court Judge Barry LaBarbera appeared to support Ethnobotanica’s argument that the county’s reasons for denying the project were not supported by substantial evidence.
In opposition, Assistant County Counsel Tim McNulty argued that the SLO County Board of Supervisors should be making land use decisions, and not the court.
Earlier this week, Judge LaBarbera upheld the board’s decision to deny Ethnobotanica’s proposal to operate a brick and mortar marijuana dispensary in Nipomo.