The Arroyo Grande City Council is moving forward in changing their marijuana ordinance after a city council meeting on Tuesday.
The council decided to remove the requirement for cannabis businesses to obtain a permit from the City of Arroyo Grande before delivering marijuana inside city limits. Business will only need a state permit to deliver within city limits.
The decision still needs to go through a second reading before it becomes final.
A city council member revealed the agenda item, which took up more than four hours of the meeting, was predicated on a threat of a lawsuit.
At the center of the conversation was Elite Care Enterprises, who had their business license revoked just six months after receiving a license from the California Bureau of Cannabis Control.
Their license was revoked because of a lack of a listed physical address. Arroyo Grande only allows delivery from businesses based outside of city limits, and the state of California now requires all marijuana businesses to have a listed business location.
Elite Care Enterprises is one of three business permitted to deliver within Arroyo Grande. Now that they’re out of business, Co-founder Cynthia Gonzalez says her clients suffer.
"Imagine you being a cancer patient that is using a pharmaceutical medication that you get from only one pharmacy, then you find out the pharmacy has been shut down with no cause… that’s now how our patients are feeling today," Gonzalez said.
Some City Council members argue patients can receive their care from other businesses.
"We have about 25 people already delivering to Arroyo Grande without a license and without a permit and people are getting what they need, so the argument that they’re not getting what they need is ridiculous," said Time Brown, a city council member.
City staff suggested one of two options: Allow for a non-storefront marijuana retail license or remove the requirement of getting a permit through the city to deliver in Arroyo Grande.
In particular, Council member Brown was adamant that a retail space should not be allowed.
"They are pushing the envelope.. we are more than happy to give deliveries, we just don’t want cash and products stored in Arroyo Grande and that’s the key issue," Brown said.
When council members asked Elite Care why they can’t operate out of cities like Grover Beach, they answered that they did not apply because they do not want a storefront in that particular area.