A proposal to create a medical marijuana dispensary in Nipomo near a gymnastics studio will go to the Board of Supervisors for a vote Tuesday.
Applicant Robert Brody appealed to the board after the Planning Commission turned him down on a 3-2 vote in May.
Brody is seeking to open the business at 425-B N. Frontage Road. He said he would use only half of the 4,000-square-foot building for the dispensary.
Marijuana for medical use is allowed under state law, but not federal law. San Luis Obispo County has not sanctioned any outlets, despite pleas from patients with cancer and other painful diseases who say marijuana alleviates their pain.
“This dispensary is for people who have doctors’ recommendations that they are sick,” Brody told planning commissioners.
Nonetheless, there are fears in Central Coast communities that the product brings crime, and the Sheriff’s Department opposed this particular plan, as did the Nipomo Citizens Advisory Committee. Ed Eby of the Nipomo Community Services District calls such dispensaries “crime magnets.”
By law, dispensaries must be located at least 1,000 feet from any preschool, K-12 school, library, park, playground or recreation or youth center.
Measurements using aerial software showed the proposed dispensary would be about 1,050 feet from Nipomo High School, separated by Highway 101. The shortest travel distance by car from the high school to the clinic would be 2.07 miles to the south, according to planner Bill Robeson.
But a gymnastics studio is located 94 feet from the proposed project. While the studio is a private business, it offers classes primarily to children, planners said.
Planning commissioners agreed, deciding that the location would place the dispensary near a youth or recreation center where children would be present.
Medical marijuana dispensaries have generally not fared well in San Luis Obispo County, despite a 2007 ordinance allowing them to exist.
In 2008, the Board of Supervisors shot down 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.
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.
In March, the Atascadero City Council approved a permanent ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, though it did support an exemption to allow caregivers to deliver to qualified medical marijuana patients inside city limits.
That same month, Morro Bay officials voted to move ahead with drafting regulations that would allow medical marijuana to be sold in the city.
“What we’re seeing is a de facto moratorium on any of these businesses,” said Planning Commissioner Anne Wyatt, who voted to allow the Nipomo dispensary. “That is the bigger issue. It’s sad for people who are in need of this.”