Santa Monica is a world-renowned city most famous for its’ shopping, surf and celebrities but 22 years into the Compassionate Use act of 1996 (Prop 215) Santa Monica still doesn’t have a medicinal cannabis dispensary. Santa Monica has always been considered a progressive city, but when it comes to cannabis, their conservative roots are showing.
The city was supposed to select their two dispensary candidates this past May/June, but the process slowed to a crawl during the background checks setting off rumors of lawsuits. I talked to Salvador Valles, Assistant Director and General Manager of Parking Operations, Planning and Community Development, the City of Santa Monica and he assures me there was no lawsuits just one appeal, which was quickly resolved.
With the new timeline, I think the best guess for having a medicinal dispensary up and running in the city of Santa Monica is probably sometime in the spring of 2019. Several potential roadblocks in the process could easily move the date back to summer or fall of 2019.
The city is currently reviewing the candidates, and the selection committee will meet on October 29 to rank all applicants. If there are any issues with the rankings, it will trigger an interview process. Once rankings are complete, they will be made public, and people will be allowed to appeal. The appeal process will involve a hearing where the hearing officer will rule. If this happens, it is anyone’s guess as to how long that could take.
When I asked Mr. Valles why the selection was taking so long, he assured me the lengthy process was done to ensure fairness. I also asked why Santa Monica had waited so long to allow dispensaries and he said they needed to update the zoning use ordinances. Then the rules need to be updated. Then the city wanted to wait on Prop 64 to see if the state would legalize cannabis for recreational use and any new state rules were in place. Currently, there aren’t any propositions or ordinances coming up that will further slow this process.
I also asked Mr. Valles about the city’s plans for recreational use stores and was told the city would wait until the medicinal dispensaries are up and running before they put it on their dockets.
My predictions for the first dispensary opening in Santa Monica will be May or June of 2019 and the first recreational use store sometime in the summer of 2021.