While medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, this week is slated to mark the first time a medical dispensary is given permission to open in Santa Monica.
In the Planning Commission’s upcoming Oct. 20 meeting, staff recommend that commissioners grant a conditional use permit (CUP) for CPC Compassion, Inc. to open a shop called Local Cannabis Co. at 925 Wilshire Boulevard.
Per the Santa Monica municipal code, the dispensary will be limited to medical use only, which means that customers will be required to have a doctor’s recommendation to purchase products.
Although this restriction does not apply to most dispensaries in Los Angeles, the CUP is still highly desirable as, for now, it will grant CPC Compassion a monopoly on local marijuana sales. This could prove especially lucrative if City Council votes to allow recreational dispensaries once the current dispensary zoning ordinance expires in 2023.
CPC Compassion Inc., beat out 19 other applicants in a 2017 Request for Applications process to become one of two marijuana businesses allowed to pursue business operations in the City. Preliminary selections were made in 2018, but the final approval was delayed by a two year appeals process.
The second selected company, Harvest of Santa Monica, LLC, has yet to apply for a CUP.
Both companies have to contend with strict zoning restrictions on where they may open. Approved areas include Wilshire Blvd. from Lincoln Blvd. to the city limits or on Santa Monica Blvd. between Lincoln Blvd. and 20th St. or between 23rd St. and Centinela Ave. The stores may not be within 600 feet of a school, daycare, park, library, social services center or the other cannabis business.
The 1,844 square feet ground floor tenant space selected by CPC Compassion, Inc. meets all of these requirements.
In September, CPC Compassion held outreach meetings with the Wilmont and Mid-City neighborhood groups to discuss the project and resident concerns. According to the staff report, both groups were generally supportive of the proposal with concerns largely being related to recreational use sales, which remain prohibited at this time.
Under the business operations plan, customers would need to provide a medical referral and identification to buy products at the store. The proposed business hours are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Commissioners are expected to review the CUP application bearing in mind the compatibility of a medicinal cannabis retail use within the neighborhood and the effectiveness of the recommended conditions of approval in limiting potential adverse impacts on the neighborhood.
Published: October 19, 2021
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News