A new measurement attempt may help open what would be the county's only medical marijuana dispensary, though the decision concerning its minor-use permit was handed off to another government entity at a June 15 meeting.
County senior planner Bill Robeson said the hearing officer passed the power of decision for the Templeton-based cannabis co-op from the county planning department to the planning commission. He added that the county decided to use new measuring points from a private park, a decision that could help the dispensary to meet regulation standards that govern how far it can be from a park.
"The ordinance says you should measure from the building to the park's property line," Robeson said. "It doesn't say you have to measure from the closest point."
The county will now measure from the front door of the proposed pot-for-patients project to the playground area of the park, where the concentration of kids would be.
That would make it 1,004 feet from the park four feet more than the minimum in county ordinances. Under a previous measurement, taken from the closest corner of the proposed dispensary, it was 60 feet short.
"This is an appropriate spot," Robeson said of the proposed medical marijuana dispensary location. "It's separated from any uses kids are involved with. Highway 101 separates the sites, there's no pedestrian travel, and you can't see either place from either location."
At the meeting, representatives from the Templeton Advisory Group, school board, and chamber of commerce all voiced recommendations to deny the project. But their cries of concern may have fallen on deaf ears.
"It seems as though some folks think the dispensary will have a negative effect on the community, but since the board approved an ordinance that allows a dispensary, we have to move forward," Robeson said. "To think it's illegal right off the bat is going against what was agreed upon. The board took action in February and said California law is what voters wanted, and we're going to continue with that."
In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, and cannabis co-ops have been operating on legal eggshells ever since. Translation the selling of medical marijuana is often ignored when it comes to local law enforcement officials, but cannabis shops can face the legal wrath of the federal government when federal drug enforcers decide to crack their almighty whips.
Even without federal support, Robeson feels the county will continue to recommend the project.
"Its unfortunate that there's a delay. People need their medicine," said proposed owner Kent Connella. "Ultimately the people that are suffering from this trivial argument are being kept from getting their medicine."
The next meeting regarding the minor use permit for the dispensary is scheduled for July 26. Whatever the result, Robeson expects the ruled-against side to appeal. If that happens, the decision will be put in the hands of the county Board of Supervisors who will determine the final verdict.