Pot Pharmacy Permit Granted by Planning Commission
BY BILL KOENEKER
A request for the city’s first pot pharmacy permit was granted last week, when the Malibu Planning Commission gave the OK for the entitlement.
The planning panel’s formal action was, on a 4-1 vote with Commissioner Regan Schaar dissenting, to grant a Conditional Use Permit for the operation of a medical marijuana dispensary.
Last summer, the city council adopted an ordinance to allow two dispensaries in the city as a conditionally permitted use in all commercial zones.
Previously, the city had enacted a moratorium after it discovered there were two dispensaries already operating, but Malibu had no zoning regulations to deal with the stores.
In contrast to those hearings and meetings about municipal action, at last week’s hearing there were no speakers, nor, according to the staff, were there any correspondence or complaints from the public.
The owners of PCH Collective successfully sought the CUP to allow for the operations of the pot pharmacy, which has been doing business in Malibu for several years.
When Chair Joan House said she visited the site, Commissioner Jeff Jennings quipped, “Did you score any?”
Regaining seriousness, House, who noted that, given Schaar’s previous complaints about another local dispensary, she wanted to see the operations up close.
“I was impressed by the collective. There was no smell. It was very neat, very tidy. No inhaling on the premises. You buy and leave. It is used like a pharmacy,” she added.
The panel was about to vote on the matter when Commissioner Ed Gillespie asked to speak.
He said he wanted to know about the other dispensary in town, saying he had looked at its Web site, where the operator advertised about an on-site smoking lounge and a free sample for visitors. Those activities violate the city’s rules.
“I have no first hand knowledge [about those activities],” said Gillespie, who asked for the status of the other dispensary known as Green Angel.
Commissioners were told the operators of Green Angel were in the process of applying for a CUP.
Gillespie said he also wanted to know if the dispensaries were against federal law. Assistant City Attorney Greg Kovacevich answered, “Yes, but not exactly. They could be seized by the feds. The violation is for possession of a controlled substance. I don’t know that will happen with this administration.”
Earlier in the day, several dispensaries on the Westside were raided and all materials, including marijuana, money and other paraphernalia were seized, according to a Los Angeles Times story.
Gillespie, who said he supported the idea of folks being able to get the medicine they needed, said he wanted to know how controls could be tightened up.
Reading from an article in the Malibu Surfside News, Gillespie quoted how local law enforcement officials said it was easy even for teens to get documentation to obtain medical marijuana.
“To me this shows we need controls. My position is the people who need this, I’m for 100 percent. I’m still uncomfortable with the controls and how easy it is to get this,” he said.
Commissioner John Mazza said he too visited the site and said while he was there an individual came in with a card that the operators verified by calling the doctor. Patients do not get prescriptions, but rather recommendations from physicians,” he said.
“They made sure it was real and made sure the person and the doctor was real,” added Mazza.
Mazza also said there were other safeguards that Malibu required that were not in effect in other jurisdictions.
The vote was taken, Schaar voted no, but made no comments during the meeting about her continued opposition.
The store claims it has patient records for over 1000 individuals who live within the 90265 zip code and employs 16 security cameras.