Medical marijuana clinic proposed for Nipomo is shot down by supervisors

Overwhelming opposition by the community and by supervisors defeats L.A. man’s application for a clinic in the South County

bcuddy@thetribunenews.comAugust 24, 2010 

A proposal for a medical marijuana clinic in Nipomo fell short Tuesday afternoon after a parade of local residents hammered it relentlessly, linking those who patronize or hang around such dispensaries to everything from murder to burglaries and saying they pose a threat to children.

Applicant Robert Brody of Los Angeles found no support from anyone in the community or on the Board of Supervisors as he sought to open his clinic in an industrial park at 425-B N. Frontage Road.

Supervisors voted 5-0 against the clinic, leaving the county without one despite an ordinance allowing dispensaries.

Marijuana for medical use is designed to help patients with cancer and other painful diseases who say marijuana alleviates their pain. They need a doctor’s prescription.

No such patients testified at Tuesday’s 90-minute hearing.

Supervisors shot down Brody’s proposal in part because the would-be dispensary would have been located close to a gymnastics studio that children attend 16 to 20 hours a week.

They also noted continuing confusion and contradictions about state and federal laws regarding marijuana.

In addition, supervisors said Brody should have done more community outreach, including consultations with law enforcement.

They also said they were moved by the overwhelming community opposition to the suggested dispensary. Speaker after speaker testified strongly against it.

One speaker, Rebecca Pruitt, called the clinic “unsafe and unneeded.” She said the typical person who goes to such a clinics is a male between 18 and 34, “not people with glaucoma” or the other ill people who it is commonly believed use medical marijuana.

Pruitt added that anyone who wants medical marijuana can get it in San Luis Obispo County and can grow his or her own limited number of plants.

Others said just about anyone can get a doctor’s prescription allowing the drug to be dispensed. The specter of crime was uppermost in many people’s minds.

“There are no murders or robberies at medical marijuana clinics in Nipomo,” said Ed Eby of the Nipomo Community Services District, “because there are no medical marijuana clinics in Nipomo. Let’s keep it that way.”

Various speakers, including Sheriff Pat Hedges, offered conflicting testimony on whether such clinics are “crime magnets,” as Eby characterized them. Hedges could not cite a study.

But Brody said it is safer to dispense the controlled substance through a clinic such as his than to stick with the current system. He said the whole idea is to give safe access to people suffering from diseases who need medical marijuana to ease their symptoms.

Brody likened current opposition to marijuana to alcohol being outlawed during Prohibition. He noted that San Luis Obispo County, with its multimillion dollar wine tourism industry, wouldn’t be so prosperous had Prohibition stuck.

Supervisor Bruce Gibson said he saw no evidence that clinics are a magnet for crime. He added, however, that he worried about the nearby gymnastics studio.

Gibson said he supports the medical use of marijuana, “in places that are appropriate.” However, San Luis Obispo County has yet to find such a place.

The Sheriff’s Department opposes this particular plan, as did the South County Advisory Council.

The Planning Commission voted 3-2 against the clinic in May. Commissioner Anne Wyatt, who was on the short end of that vote, said what the county is “seeing is a de facto moratorium on any of these businesses. That is the bigger issue. It’s sad for people who are in need of this.”

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