The likelihood of a Templeton medical marijuana dispensary opening soon is still a little hazy.
On April 19, the Templeton Advisory Group voted 5-2 not to support the local pot-for-patients project proposed by applicant Kent Connella. But as its name suggests, the group is only advisory in nature and can't approve or disapprove the project that's determined by the county Planning and Building Department, which will release an answer regarding the dispensary in early June, according to senior county planner Bill Robeson.
Those who voiced disapproval of the project at the meeting said the state and federal legal guidelines regarding cannabis co-ops aren't consistent, and the inconsistency could lead to problems.
"My personal belief is if we're going to have medical marijuana, let's have it [federally] approved, so [patients] can go to a drug store with a prescription and get it legally," said Nick Marquart, chairman of the advisory group. "I'm not a medical expert, but if it is something that gives them relief, let's make a medically approved prescription, and let's have consistency."
Those in support of the dispensary said the advisory group should abide by local laws.
"I believe a lot of the elements discussed were beyond our scope. I don't think TAG should take into consideration whether it is state or federal rule," said board member Dorothy Jennings, who voted in favor of the dispensary. "We need to follow California law."
In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, known as the Compassionate Use Act, and dispensaries have been operating in a legal gray area ever since meaning the selling of medical marijuana is overlooked when it comes to local law enforcement officials, but cannabis shops aren't immune when federal agents decide to flex their enforcement muscles.
"I think that it all comes back to the voters of California," applicant Connella said. "We're being led by a small group. We live in a democracy and we should uphold neighbors with different views."
Naysayers of the Templeton project argue that the proposed location for the cannabis co-op is too close to a meeting spot for children, a church.
The planned site of the marijuana dispensary is in an industrial area in a 1,450-square-foot building at the north side of Templeton at 3850 Ramada Dr.
The county Planning and Building Department isn't totally against the proposal.
"If it's run correctly and meets standards, it could be a good fit in the community," county senior planner Robeson said.
Attorney Lou Koory, who declined to comment on the situation, is representing Connella. He also represents Charles Lynch, whose Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers dispensary in Morro Bay was recently served with a federal search warrant.