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SLO County’s first and only storefront medical marijuana dispensary has found a new home in Morro Bay. Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers (CCCC) was previously located in Atascadero, where city officials shut it down less than four weeks after it opened. Rather than continue to battle for his right to run the business, CCCC owner Charles Lynch decided to move to a more pot-friendly location. That turned out to be Morro Bay, where the city’s attorney, the City Council, and even the Mayor gave Lynch the go-ahead to open the co-op by issuing him a business license. Only Morro Bay Police Chief John DeRohan chose to abstain from the licensing process, citing conflicts between federal and state laws. DeRohan could not be reached for comment.
 
According to Rob Schultz, attorney for the City of Morro Bay, Lynch’s license was issued under a 20-year-old zoning ordinance specifically meant for drug stores and pharmacies. “Technically, that’s what this place is,� says Schultz, remarking that the city planners back then might not have known what they were getting themselves into. Lynch agreed to several conditions in order to obtain the license, including running daytime-only hours, prohibiting consumption on the property, and establishing an 18-and-over age limit. Lou Koory, Lynch’s attorney, says his client willingly complied with these and other conditions, noting that none of them was in any way prohibitive or unnecessarily restrictive.
 
“My client just wants to get back to serving people, and he’s grateful to Morro Bay for letting him do that,� says Koory. It’s likely that Lynch will have plenty of people to serve once he opens his doors on April 1. In the short time his shop was up and running in Atascadero, Koory says Lynch accumulated more than 300 physician-approved clients, persons suffering from chronic pain, terminal illnesses, HIV, depression, and a host of other ailments that can be treated with marijuana. Without access to a local dispensary, many of these people have to travel as far away as the Bay Area and Santa Barbara to receive services.
 
Schultz says the city has already received requests from other dispensary hopefuls, though Lynch is the only person so far to receive the city’s approval. “A lot of it has to do with where they want to put these places,� he explains. “One guy wanted to put a shop in across from City Hall, but that’s not really possible. We couldn’t even open a regular pharmacy there.� As for how many dispensaries the city will allow, Schultz says there is currently no cap regulating the numbers. “Maybe when we have four or five going, then we’ll have to address that issue. But only time will tell. If there aren’t any problems, then I don’t see any need for regulation.�
 
Although medical marijuana has been legalized in California since 1996, and legislation since then has provided further provisions for dispensation, cannabis club owners throughout the state continue to face opposition by local governments and law enforcement agencies. “What these people refuse to acknowledge,� says Koory, “is that the state’s Attorney General determined that medical cannabis laws are valid, and he instructed state-wide law enforcement to comply with those laws. They work for the state, not the fed. He calls the shots. This issue is about more than just cannabis, it’s about a person’s individual rights, and the government’s continued interference with those rights.�

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