Three apply for pot dispensaries in West Marin

09/08/2016

Three groups have applied for licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries they hope to operate in West Marin, two in the San Geronimo Valley and one in Marshall. The Community Development Agency accepted applications through Aug. 31, but not all of the applicants appear to have received permission from the owners of the buildings whose addresses they listed for their future operations. 

Permission to use an address was a required part of the application, said Tom Lai, the agency’s assistant director. “[O]ver the next few weeks, we intend to verify that the applications meet the submittal requirements in order to be able to move them forward for additional review,” he said. 

The applications are the latest step in the county’s effort to improve access to medical marijuana. Storefront dispensaries have never before been permitted in unincorporated Marin, and the last storefront in the county closed two years ago in Corte Madera. 

Last December, the county approved an ordinance to allow up to four storefronts in Marin, two in West Marin and two in the eastern part of the county, though the agency can approve fewer depending on the caliber of the applications. Operations must be at least 800 feet from schools, youth-oriented facilities, smoke shops and other dispensaries.

The agency received more applications than it expected: a total of 12, including five for Mill Valley, one for San Rafael, three for Novato and three for West Marin. The county charged applicants $6,000, though that amount can be refunded if a group rescinds the application before the county processes it.

The Community Development Agency has posted the names, phone numbers and addresses named in applications on its website and will soon post the applications, with sensitive information redacted, Mr. Lai said.

Now, the applications are being reviewed for completeness. The county will give each “one shot” to provide missing information, Mr. Lai said. After that, if an application lacks any necessary documents, it will be eliminated from consideration.

Originally the agency planned to convene a public workshop in November on the applications, where an advisory committee would make recommendations to the county administrator, who will make the final call on which groups receive a license. But because of the larger number of applicants, Mr. Lai said the public event will happen in early 2017. 

 The West Marin applicants are Forest Knolls Wellness, Even Tide Medical Cannabis Dispensary and Craftcanna Health Center. Natalia Thurston, the contact for Forest Knolls Wellness, is an attorney specializing in marijuana issues who represents two San Rafael residents who would run the dispenary. If they nabbed a license, they would operate at 6700 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, where the farm stand is located. (The building’s owner did not respond to a voicemail seeking comment. However, the owner, Becky Lepori, contact the Light following the publication of this article and said she did not receive a voicemail. She said she did grant permission to the applicants for a dispensary.)

Ms. Thurston said her clients would like to organize community events at the space like tai chi or yoga, and would sell a long list of products. “The full menu of dispensary offerings, all lab-tested,” she said.

Deborah Reynolds, the contact for Even Tide, which listed 7282 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, at Lagunitas Station, as its address, did not return a call by press time. 

There are spaces available for lease in the building, but Bill Hart, the realtor who manages leases for the property, said neither he nor the building’s owner—Lagunitas LLC, the principal of which is William White—had met Ms. Reynolds or given her or anyone else permission to lease space for a dispensary. 

“These people didn’t have permission to make this application. The owner is not going to give anyone permission at this time,” Mr. Hart said, adding that the owner was “not real happy” about being associated with a dispensary.

Valley business owners are largely comfortable with the idea of a local storefront dispensary, said Brian Staley, chair of the San Geronimo Valley Planning Group. “I had done a review a few months ago of the business owners in the Valley and they were unanimously in favor of the idea, as long as they met the state codes and health and safety requirements,” he wrote in an email.

Jyoti Sroa, the listed contact for Craftcanna, is part of the family that owns Lotus Cuisine of India in San Rafael. He said he was “still working” on getting the property owners’ permission for the Marshall address he listed: 20105 Highway 1, or the Marshall Tavern.

But one of the Marshall Tavern’s co-owner, Avi Atid, said the applicants had no permission from the building’s owners to run a dispensary. “We didn’t authorize anything and we have no contract with these people,” he said.

 

A clarification was added to this article on Sept. 14.