Morro Bay leaders are taking great pains to avoid past problems as they continue to draft regulations for the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries.
The city council voted 4-1 on March 8 to create a subcommittee to hammer down legal terminology and possible ramifications for allowing up to two dispensaries. City Attorney Rob Shultz will return a redrafted ordinance to the council within 90 days.
The council said it recognized the need for a source of such treatment for people with illnesses on the Central Coast, but the city will proceed cautiously.
“It’s clear we’re in muddy waters here,” councilman Rick Grantham said at the meeting, citing the discrepancy between state and federal law regarding medicinal marijuana. “I would never want to see what happened to Charlie happen to anybody else.”
Grantham was referencing the embattled former Morro Bay dispensary owner Charles Lynch, who sat quietly in the back of the room during the meeting.
“Bottom line is, this is going to happen sooner or later,” Grantham told New Times. “There’s money to be made, and city governments are strapped for cash. And it doesn’t seem fair residents have to go to Oakland or L.A. for medicine.”
Councilwoman Carla Borchard was the sole opposition for moving forward and asked if the city was putting itself at risk of litigation.
Of the 16 public speakers, five were explicitly against allowing dispensaries and cited the proposed location and “unsavory characters” some said the businesses would attract.
Mayor Janice Peters, however, said that when the previous dispensary operated, she received no complaints from surrounding businesses or residents.
“I never got that call,” she said. “This was not something we can say didn’t work.”