Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hearing coming up for 302 E Haley

A hearing is coming up for a dispensary proposed at 302 E Haley. The dispensary is Aloha Spirt Organic Consumables, Inc. Does that sound like a patient care group to you? No. These folks are planning to sell pot recreationally, and they're going in the Marijuana Mile, a swath of Haley and Gutierrez where there are 7 existing and proposed dispensaries. Businesses already trying to make a living there will be thrilled, I am sure.

If you care about your city and neighborhoods, please come to the hearing and speak out. If no one says anything, then everyone believes pot shops are ok, and when the armed robberies and kids smoking out back starts going down, you can't complain. It will be too late. They're easier to prevent than they are to unseat once they've moved in. 336 Anacapa is illegally operating, and it's been there ages, and no one is shutting it down. See what I mean? Once they get in, they never leave.

Stop the madness now!
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Saturday, October 24, 2009


Don't know if you have noticed, but some neighborhood plants have been removed from some our planting beds--A beautiful mature agave atenatua and a new zealand flax were taken last weekend. This is truly sad, since it was a neighborhood effort to buy, plant, and keep the plants for the benefit and aesthetics of West Downtown. Please keep alert!
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Friday, October 23, 2009

The Marijuana Mile March

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'MARIJUANA MILE' MARCH : Protesters decry proliferation of pot dispensaries; demand tighter controls

Above, protesters march down Gutierrez Street in an area they call the Marijuana Mile because of its concentration of pot dispensaries, many of them operating outside the city's ordinance governing such facilities. Below, children lead the march along Anacapa Street. At bottom, mayoral candidate Dale Francisco speaks at a rally after the march.

October 11, 2009 6:43 AM

One of the most contentious issues in Santa Barbara was brought to the forefront on Saturday with a march across downtown to protest the proliferation of marijuana dispensaries in the city.

Organizers and politicians gathered to express their outrage over what they see as a lack of enforcement which has had negative consequences in Santa Barbara.

About 45 people gathered at Ortega Park for a march through what they called the marijuana mile, a group of about 10 dispensaries that are within a few blocks of each other. A major point of contention is that these dispensaries, which some argue are so densely clustered as to instigate crime in the area, are also very close to centers where young children gather. Santa Barbara Junior High School and Girls Inc. are just outside the mandatory 500 foot distance, but close enough to be affected, protesters said.

According to the downtown organizations that sponsored the march, a primary problem has been the proliferation of dispensaries that are out of compliance with the city's dispensary ordinance. The regulations, which put limits on dispensaries, do not apply to those dispensaries that had already received business permits when the ordinance took effect and are already operating in the city, they said, which means that some dispensaries are closer than 500 feet apart. Those dispensaries are being given a certain amount of time to conform to those regulations or lose their licenses.

Brian Sarvis, the superintendent of the Santa Barbara School Districts, said that the dispensaries have been a major problem for schools and have resulted in increased drug use among students. "I voted for medical marijuana, and I assumed that people would be able to go to the pharmacy and get their prescription, like any other prescription," he said. "It has really spiraled out of control. Many of our students have come to school high, or with marijuana. When we ask them about it, they pull out a card and say, 'Hey, it's all right.' "

Once students turn 18 years old -- almost half of all high school seniors -- they are eligible to go to doctor and get a prescription for medical marijuana, he said. From that point, they register with health services, and receive a card in the mail. Dr. Sarvis said it has been remarkably easy to get a prescription, and said that kids can often get an appointment from the dispensary with a doctor in a parking lot.

"It's out of control. The faucet has been opened, and it is so easy to get it. Kids tell me you can just go in and buy a prescription." He added that many who are caught say it is so easy, you might as well sell it from vending machines.

Some in the community have said that crime has increased since dispensaries have been in the area. "We're engaged in an entire cultural shift in the downtown area, and it's to bring in unwanted impacts," said one resident who declined to be identified for fear of reprisals. "Santa Barbara is becoming ground zero in the South Coast for marijuana dispensaries, because all other cities have banned them. It's really getting crazy."

The resident said that most of the dispensaries are now illegal, since the attorney general of California had recently declared that dispensaries must now be collectives and not for profit, and that dispensaries in the area are for-profit businesses. Downtown groups are also trying to change the local ordinance by extending the distance between dispensaries from 500 feet to one mile, and to closely monitor where the marijuana comes from in the first place, which the resident said is not being regulated right now.

"I just love our downtown. I love living downtown, and it's already unfriendly," the resident said. "It's changed so much over the last few years. Proliferation of dispensaries is not the model."

Three mayoral candidates were on hand to give their perspective on the problem.

"There are three problems," said Councilwoman Helene Schneider. "One, is the proliferation of illegal dispensaries that needs to be shut down right now. Two, we need a cap. Three is the proximity to schools. When we voted for it, I imagined this would apply to schools and areas where young people gather," she said, which would include centers like Girls Inc.

Currently, Ms. Schneider said there are two dispensaries which are illegally operating without permits, and three dispensaries which are legally non-conforming, meaning that they received a business license before the city passed an ordinance. The city is actively cracking down on illegal dispensaries, she said. "They should be shut down, either through criminal citations or zoning ordinances. They should be shut down and the city is working on this," she said.

California laws have outlawed marijuana dispensed at pharmacies, and the cities are left to determine how they would like to regulate their own dispensaries, she said. Since the legalization of medical marijuana in the late 1990s, the state has designated a "care-giver" to dispense it, although this does not have to be a dispensary.

Councilman Dale Francisco, who is also running for mayor, agreed that the dispensaries need to be more tightly regulated. "We've got a lot of illegal ones, that's a huge problem, but I think we have a problem with the ordinance itself," he said, adding that it has increased the city's problem with illegal use as well. "I am fine with providing medical marijuana for patients in a safe, legal way. That's what compassionate use is all about. The problem is the whole dispensary idea. This was never a part of state law, and the courts are saying the cities have the right to outlaw dispensaries."

Mr. Francisco said he wanted the city to adopt a cooperative approach for dispensing marijuana, in which members of the collective act as their own caregivers by growing and consuming the marijuana themselves without profit, similar to what is happening in Los Angeles. If the city cannot create an ordinance for using collectives, he said he would prefer to see dispensaries outlawed all together.

The councilman is also on the ordinance committee, which has set a 16-month timeline for legally non-conforming dispensaries to comply with guidelines, which might involve some of them having to relocate or risk being shut down. He said the committee is looking at narrowing this timeline even further. "Obviously, this is very controversial. This isn't settled by any means," Mr. Francisco said. "As a city councilmember, I have been getting so much e-mail on this. This is obviously an important issue for us."

Bob Hansen, another mayoral candidate, was on hand to voice his support of the dispensaries, although he still backs more regulations. "I think the (allowable) number shouldn't be so high, and I think there should be a two week limit (for visits)," he said. A cap should be set at around 10, not 25, and a lottery system may be able to determine who will be allowed to open a dispensary while they are being closely monitored, he said. "In America, you should be able to go to your doctor and get it, if you're not selling it or doing it too much."

He also shared concerns about the dispensary pot falling into the hands of children. "You do have to be careful about it. We should n our kids about it. When I was younger, I did smoke it and get lackadaisical. We really need to teach our kids how to make good choices," he said.

Becky's letter to the Newspress - GREAT JOB

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Letters: Voice outrage over medical pot shops

October 23, 2009 7:22 AM

This is re: the Oct. 14 front-page article "Bad vibes?" It is good to read and to believe that others also are outraged by things that might potentially harm our youth. In this case, the fear of "electromagnetic waves" from a proposed cell antenna near Montecito School.

Another issue Santa Barbara residents should be outraged about is the proliferation of cannabis dispensaries in our city. Many people have voiced their concerns at City Hall meetings, including our school superintendent, a junior high principal, Housing Authority officials, Girls, Inc. director, and many professionals in the field of drug addiction and rehabilitation.

Our city officials seemingly had such a nonchalant attitude on this matter that a group of citizens from the Eastside and Westside banded together to protect our children and neighborhoods by appealing permits issued to the dispensary entrepreneurs. The residents worked on revisions to the Marijuana Dispensary Ordinance and submitted them to the Ordinance Committee.

The dispensaries' applicants/owners are in it for the monetary, not the compassion. Why are so many interested in opening dispensaries in our city? Money. Dispensaries are being opened in our neighborhoods near our schools, parks, day care centers, etc. If they are to dispense medicinal cannabis, why not have them in the Cottage Hospital and/or Sansum Clinic areas? Surely, there are vacant offices there.

My hope is to have zero in our city. However, city officials have opened the floodgates while other cities along the coast said no. Another hope is that more local residents become outraged about the marijuana dispensaries that are popping up all over our city. Years ago, we were in denial about gangs in Santa Barbara and look what happened. Let's not be in denial about the cannabis dispensaries .

Thursday, October 8, 2009

How many dispensaries does it take to serve compassionate intent?

How many dispensaries does it take to
serve compassionate intent?

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Santa Barbara
• Marijuana dispensaries are locating close to schools and after-school
facilities, and the city is allowing this.
• Kids in schools are getting high on ‘medical’ marijuana.
• Neighborhoods are being overrun with dispensaries.
• Nothing in state law mentions dispensaries. There are plenty of ways
for the seriously ill to get medical marijuana without having dispensaries.
• Goleta, Ventura, Carpentaria have banned dispensaries. Los Angeles is
in the process of declaring their dispensaries illegal, and shutting them all
• Our city council has made the decision to allow dispensaries, but how
many???? We’d like the city council to make a different decision.
Did we really want to be a city of pot shops?
If you are concerned about too many pot
shops in our beautiful city, come join the
city-wide march. Be heard!
10:00 AM
Saturday October 10, 2009
Ortega Park
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Medical-Marijuana Dispensary at Paseo Chapala Wins Conditional Approval

Medical-Marijuana Dispensary at Paseo Chapala Wins Conditional Approval

The city's staff hearing officer requires The Farmacy to hire an additional guard or put in security cameras, among other conditions
Read More Here.

By  | Published on 10.07.2009

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Daily Sound ? Police blotter ? September 29

Daily Sound ? Police blotter ? September 29

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Medical marijuana laws get continued scrutiny

Medical marijuana laws get continued scrutiny

By ERIC LINDBERG — Sept. 30, 2009

During their second attempt to beef up laws that regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, Santa Barbara city leaders listened through another lengthy session of public input before making decisions on several of many issues that have cropped up due to the proliferation of pot shops.

Along with agreeing that a cap on the number of dispensaries allowed to operate in the city would be appropriate, members of the ordinance committee moved toward requiring dispensaries that had been grandfathered in under the current ordinance to conform with the regulations within a shorter, six-month period.

However, time ran out before the committee could address other potential changes to laws concerning pot shops. Some community members have asked for stricter security, an increased buffer zone around schools and parks, and a moratorium on new dispensaries, citing an increase in crime and negative neighborhood impacts.

Others have urged city officials to protect access to medical marijuana for those who legitimately use the drug to treat chronic pain and other ailments.

At least 15 dispensaries exist in the city, ranging from several that have been approved by city officials but haven’t opened yet to others that are operating illegally. City leaders noted that it is unclear if the current regulations are sufficient, as many of the pot shops are operating outside the law.

“Our entire experience is with illegal dispensaries and ones that are currently non-conforming,” Councilmember Das Williams said, arguing that the city needs to speed up the process to get all dispensaries operating under the current rules. “That’s the only way we can even tell if our regulation is good or bad.”

That discussion spawned a proposal to shorten the period of time for non-conforming dispensaries to get in step with the rules, and the committee ultimately agreed to recommend that the full council drop that timeframe down from 18 months to six months.

“Since we did try to craft a rational ordinance and since we are trying to make more changes to that ordinance to make it better, I think it’s a reasonable change to reduce the amount of time the existing nonconforming dispensaries have to come into conformance,” Councilmember Dale Francisco said.

The committee also agreed that placing a cap on the overall number of dispensaries citywide is a good idea and agreed that it would be making a recommendation along those lines in the future, although the specifics of that plan will likely be ironed out when the discussion continues in the coming weeks.

“We do want a cap,” Williams said, adding, “We may want to parcel that out geographically.”

Responding to concerns expressed by residents of the lower Eastside community, where several dispensaries have sprung up along Milpas and Haley streets, he said a reasonable cap would certainly prevent any more pot shops from opening along the Milpas Street corridor.

But for many who spoke during the public comment period, including Superintendent Brian Sarvis of the Santa Barbara School Districts, there are already too many dispensaries in that area.

“We would prefer that you shut down the Milpas corridor altogether,” Sarvis said, describing how a student told him recently, “This stuff is becoming so easy to get we might as well put it in our vending machines.”

After continuing the hearing to a later date — which had yet to be determined — Williams warned those in attendance that public comment would likely be limited in the future unless geared toward a specific part of the ordinance up for discussion.

“If we spend the whole meeting listening to your concerns, we can’t do anything to strengthen the regulations,” he said.

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