In SLO County, debate is over dispensaries

The history of medical marijuana in San Luis Obispo County has been characterized by support and opposition to dispensaries.

In 2006, San Luis Obispo County became the 21st in California to issue cards to qualified medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers.

In 2007, the Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance allowing medical marijuana dispensaries. The ordinance stipulates that dispensaries cannot be in a downtown business area or within 1,000 feet of any school, library, playground, park or youth recreation area.

A dispensary in Morro Bay that opened in 2006 was closed a little more than a year later, after sheriff’s and federal Drug Enforcement Agency officials raided Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers and said they found federal and state violations. The operator, Charles Lynch, was later given a reduced sentence in a highly watched federal court case.

In 2008, county supervisors barred a dispensary planned for Templeton, saying it was too close to a playground and did not fit with the character of the community. County planning commissioners had voted to approve it.

In March, Morro Bay officials voted to move ahead with drafting regulations that would allow medical marijuana to be sold in the city.

Later that month, the Atascadero City Council approved a permanent ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, though they supported an exemption to allow caregivers to deliver to qualified medical marijuana patients inside city limits.

Most recently, county planning commissioners voted 3-2 in May to block a ­proposal to add a medical marijuana dispensary to a warehouse building in Nipomo.