Monday’s vote to allow one medicinal marijuana dispensary to open in what’s referred to as the “castle building” off Highway 246 and Skytt Mesa Drive was a long time coming for the Solvang City Council.
“The city council was headed towards a full ban and had an emergency ordinance that did fully ban cannabis products and businesses in Solvang. Then about four or five months ago, they switched gears and decided they would like to have a medical dispensary,” explained Brad Vidro, Solvang City Manager.
The new dispensary would be located in the same plaza as businesses like Hope Thrift Store.
“Owning a business is always exciting when there’s other opportunities that might bring customers in our area, in our direction, so I look at it in the positive way,” said Ezra Miza, owner of Hope Thrift Store.
Across the street is the entrance to the Skytt Mesa neighborhood. Some homeowners wish they were more involved in the approval process.
“I think a decision like this should have been made by the people of Solvang on a vote. I don’t know why we’re not being allowed to vote yay or nay for it,” said resident Mark O’Brien.
Other neighbors like the location being away from the downtown area.
“I don’t have a problem with a dispensary being right around the corner as long as it’s not in the downtown area where tourists hang out. I think that will hurt the atmosphere of the city,” said resident Steve Cullumber.
Similar thoughts have been echoed by the city’s mayor, the one abstaining vote in this decision.
“Tourists are our lifeblood. Tourism is very important to the financial well being of the city. I believe marijuana does not lend itself to that image of Solvang,” said Mayor Jim Richardson.
The mayor is up for re-election. His opponent, Ryan Toussaint, says, “My position comes as an act of compassion for those who are truly in need of medical cannabis, not for revenue. More importantly I think having this dispensary will be helpful to our residents that have a true need for medical Cannabis.”
The city manager says the city still has to decipher how it will administer its application process but so far, eight businesses have shown interest.