A medical marijuana delivery service became the first licensed dispensary in San Luis Obispo County in December but now, just six months later, the business has lost its license to operate in Arroyo Grande.
The owners of Elite Care Enterprises received a letter Tuesday from the California Bureau of Cannabis Control telling them they are no longer authorized to operate in Arroyo Grande.
"Since we had a five to zero vote from the city council, we felt like we had the support to move forward with this endeavor," said Elite Care CXO Cynthia Gonzalez.
Arroyo Grande Community Developer Teresa McClish said Elite Care did initially receive support to operate in the community as a delivery service.
Because California state law requires licensed medical marijuana dispensaries to have a physical address, Elite Care applied with the intention to have a product storage facility in town.
The Arroyo Grande city ordinance expressly prohibits a brick and mortar marijuana dispensary.
"Although Elite Care is licensed by the City to deliver medicinal cannabis into the City, the request for a state license for a physical premises in Arroyo Grande would not be consistent with the City’s Ordinance," McClish said in a statement to KSBY.
Bureau of Cannabis Control Chief of Communications Alex Traverso said Wednesday that the law simply stated prohibits a business from being licensed by the state if it does not have local support.
Gonzalez and her business partner, CEO Tami Peluso, said Wednesday that they’ve been blindsided by the letter.
"We did everything out in the open," Peluso said. "We’ve been completely honest with them and we spent the time and money to get that license and do things the right way."
Peluso started up the business after her mother’s painful battle with breast cancer in 2012.
"She was desperate, she said ‘I don’t believe this western medicine is working, what can we do?’" Peluso said.
She said her mother agreed to try medical marijuana but the process was arduous and the product was designed as a one-size-fits-all medicine.
"When you’re sick and you’re afraid you’re going to die, you’re desperate, so you’ll go wherever you can to get help," Peluso said. "We didn’t want anyone else to be taken advantage of."
McClish said the issue would be discussed further at the June 12 county commissioners meeting.
But she added that Elite Care may just need to set up shop in another town and bring their product into patients.
Peluso said the business would move to another location and take their business elsewhere if they could not receive a license to operate in Arroyo Grande.