More marijuana issues coming before planning commission

Marijuana will be a dominating topic at the Humboldt Planning Commission meeting Thursday night, with the commission discussing the county’s draft medical marijuana ordinance and permits for two pot dispensaries.

The night’s public hearings will include conditional use permits for the Redwood Legacy dispensary — which would be the first permitted medical marijuana dispensary in Southern Humboldt — and for the Hummingbird Healing Center, which was the first operating dispensary in the greater Eureka area before the county shut it down.

The Hummingbird Healing Center was operating without a county-issued conditional use permit after its doors in the Myrtletown shopping center opened in September 2009. The county brought suit against the dispensary, arguing that the dispensary was operating in violation of county zoning ordinances and sought a preliminary injunction that would force the dispensary to close its doors until the conclusion of the court case or until it procures the proper permits.

In July, a judge ruled in favor of the county, granting the preliminary injunction that will force the center to close, at least temporarily.

While the center is still in the appeals process, Executive Director Nathan Johns said the dispensary is trying to move forward so it can provide for its patients. When the dispensary closed, it had more than 1,700 patients enrolled.

”We’re just hoping for the best. Everything we’ve done has been in the best 

interest of our patients and we’re hoping the county agrees,” Johns said.

County planner Steven Lazar said both dispensaries submitted their applications in April, and permits typically take four to six months to reach the planning commission hearing.

Lazar said the county is treating the Hummingbird Healing Center’s permit like every other application.

”They have the right to apply,” he said, adding that the center’s characteristics are very similar to the Humboldt County Collective, which is located in the same shopping center as the Hummingbird Healing Center. The commission approved the Humboldt County Collective’s permit in August.

Lazar said the collective has been in operation for a few months now and no issues have been reported.

The Hummingbird Healing Center and the Redwood Legacy will be the third and fourth dispensaries to apply for permits within county limits.

The Redwood Legacy is asking the commission to allow the conversion of a portion of an existing 1,800-square-foot commercial building — formerly operated as a health club — to be a nursery and distribution facility run by a medical cannabis collective. The project is located at 1385 Redwood Drive in Garberville. Members of the public submitting written testimony are required to provide 14 copies for the commission and staff.

Lazar said the first application for a dispensary was from a group in Willow Creek in 2004. While the application was denied by the commission, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors appealed it, but the dispensary never began operations.

Lazar said that application was the impetus for creating a medical marijuana ordinance. The first phase of the ordinance will be going before the commission Thursday night. The documents address indoor medical marijuana grows for personal use, leaving outdoor and large-scale cultivation to be addressed in a future document.

In other matters, the commission will continue its public hearing on the housing element and also hold a public hearing on a modification to the previously approved coastal development permit for the College of the Redwoods main campus on Tompkins Hill Road. The original permit included the construction of a 54,000-square-foot academic building for classrooms and faculty offices, which would also have required the removal of 42 trees. The proposed modification involves the construction of two two-story academic buildings — 30,975 square feet and 25,396 square feet, which would eliminate the need for the original building and the tree removal.

via : Times-Standard

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