Plans for a Nipomo medical marijuana dispensary will still move forward, dispensary representatives say, despite the project failing to garner community support at a local advisory board meeting this week.
The plans, proposed by Stephanie Kiel of Santa Cruz, are set to go before the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission sometime in May.
The Nipomo Community Services District boardroom overflowed Monday night as around 50 community members crowded into the small conference room to protest or show support for the medical marijuana dispensary proposed for the outskirts of town.
Kiel’s proposed brick-and-mortar dispensary would operate out of a 2,500-square-foot space at 2122 Hutton Road.
Kiel presented her plans for to the South County Advisory Council at its monthly meeting, asking for the council’s stamp of approval before the plans go before the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission in May. Kiel currently runs a mobile marijuana dispensary service called Ethnobotanica Patients Cooperative out of Watsonville, Calif. Her business makes deliveries in Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties.
“I want Ethnobotanica to be the dispensary to open in San Luis Obispo County and the dispensary that stays open in San Luis Obispo County,” Kiel said during her presentation. “I think San Luis Obispo County wants this — whether they realize it or not.”
Though members of the council were generally sympathetic to Kiel’s proposal, ultimately they voted 9-2 to deny the request for a recommendation.
In their decision, council members cited concerns about the location being attractive to criminals because of its proximity to the highway as well as the continuing disparity between state and federal law on medical marijuana.
“My problem with this is that Proposition (215) continues to be a shoddy way to legislate marijuana, and we’ve seen how poorly it’s worked for us over time,” council Vice Chair Harry Walls said. “I am waiting for a time when marijuana can be regulated better in a way that we all can live with.”
The majority of speakers during public comment also spoke out against the project, with only two of the nine speakers saying they favored the dispensary.
“Whoever chose this site might have thought of this as just a commercial area, but I’m letting you know there are 40-plus families living in that area that do not want this,” said Mary Oliver, who lives at Casa Pacifica approximately a mile away from the proposed dispensary location.
“This is such a new thing for our country — I just don’t think Nipomo wants to stand for that and be at the frontier of drug development, especially when it’s not through a pharmacy,” Nipomo resident Jeremy Acres said.
Local attorney Louis Koory, Kiel's adviser on the project, said that Kiel will continue to pursue the brick-and-mortar dispensary despite the council’s decision. He said he is confident the Planning Commission will approve the project in May.