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Santa Monica Chooses Medical Marijuana Retailers
By Jorge Casuso
December 20, 2018 -- More than two decades after medical marijuana became legal in California, Santa Monica on Thursday chose two companies to run its first "pot shops."
Harvest of Santa Monica, LLC and CPC Compassion, Inc were ranked at the top of a list of applicants competing for no more than two permits the City will issue, City officials announced Thursday.
The two companies, which were established during the first two months of this year, were chosen more than a year after the City Council approved a law green-lighting the permits in October 2017 ("Santa Monica City Council Approves Law Allowing Medicinal “Pot Shops,” October 12, 2017).
While medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, local governments have the power to create specific ordinances regulating dispensaries within their borders.
Under Santa Monica’s medical cannabis law, retailers are restricted to the two-mile confines of Wilshire Boulevard, from Lincoln to the city limits, and along Santa Monica Boulevard between Lincoln and 20th Street or between 23rd Street and Centinela Avenue.
Outlets can be no larger than 2,500 square feet, cannot be within 600 feet of a child care and early education facility, or family day care center, park, school, library, social service center or other cannabis retailer.
The ordinance establishes application and permitting processes for both retail outlets and “light manufacturing” of cannabis products in the city, including lotions or edibles.
Santa Monica has long resisted calls for establishing medical marijuana retailers.
Even as marijuana collectives were popping up across Los Angeles and the state, City officials refused to allow the shops, arguing they could bring crime and other problems.
In November 2009, the City Council declined to act on a request by a group of senior citizens that wanted to open a local dispensary ("Council May Consider Pot Dispensaries," November 5, 2009).
That changed in 2015, when the City’s new zoning ordinance update allowed two dispensaries within Santa Monica (“Santa Monica Moves Closer to Opening Medical Marijuana Dispensaries,” July 30, 2015).
Shortly after the zoning overhaul went into effect, the Council -- which had been bracing for increased interest in the dispensaries -- finally voted to open the door.
The 21 applications received by the City were evaluated based on objective criteria by an Evaluation Committee that issued its recommendations to the Director of Planning and Community Development, David Martin.
The Final Administrative Decision was issued Thursday.
The initial list -- which considered "experience in cultivation practices" -- ranked CPC Compassion, Inc at the top, followed by Harvest of Santa Monica, LLC.
The two companies switched spots when Martin disagreed with the inclusion of the criteria for cultivation.
In both lists, Chaos Enterprises, Inc ranked third.
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