2 storefront dispensaries have received approval to open in the city, and another 2 applications are pending
A dispensary at 3617 State St. in Ontare Plaza is one of two that have been approved by the City of Santa Barbara. Neither has opened. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)
Even as California’s laws and public opinion regarding marijuana evolve, the going is still slow for medical marijuana dispensaries in Santa Barbara.
As of this month, two have applications pending with the city and another two have received approval, though they’ve yet to open.
Medical marijuana dispensaries are closely regulated by the city’s zoning ordinance.
They’re prohibited from cultivating their pot within city limits, must operate as cooperatives or collectives, and cannot make a profit off the medical marijuana sold to their members.
Only three are allowed to operate at any one time, and must each be in one of five separate areas of Santa Barbara. Dispensaries are further prohibited in existing mixed-use buildings with residential condominiums, and only Santa Barbara County residents can have memberships.
They’re further subject to various municipal inspections, and must have security provided by an outside security company.
Santa Barbara used to have four city-permitted dispensaries, but all closed up shop in 2012, within a few months of federal raids and the delivery of asset-forfeiture letters to landlords.
The city has more recently approved dispensaries at 3617 State St. in Ontare Plaza and at 118 N. Milpas St. on the Lower Eastside.
The windows of both storefronts are currently papered over, and the locations lack any signage. The inside of the planned Milpas dispensary, The Canopy Health and Wellness Center, is under construction.
The storefronts’ journey to approval was not without controversy. Neighbors’ opposition revolved around potential safety issues (such as a person leaving a