No pot doctor in SJB historic district

Planning commission turn down proposal for former bank

Cannabis

A medical cannabis recommendation clinic with several licensed physicians will not be allowed to operate at a former bank in the historic center of San Juan Bautista, according to a decision by the city’s planning commission during its Tuesday meeting.  

“I’ve provided a wealth of information in the last three months to the point where I’m going to lose this building because of the delays of this body and also the city council,” said applicant, Mandisa Snodey. “I tried to simplify it because there was confusion over the business plan.”

Snodey, who owns Closet Under the Stairs Apothecarium in the city, presented the proposed business for 301 Third Street to the commissioners at their regular meeting on July 10, but the item was continued to August 1 because of new information presented by Snodey the day of the meeting.

Snodey told the commission she took responsibility for trying to put all the business components in one place.

“It led to the perception that I was trying to hide or be sneaky,” she said. “But I was really trying to do everything at once. My vision grew as time went on. I don’t have any more time to deliberate on this issue, which is why I simplified it down to a medical clinic.”

Commission chairman John Hopper asked what kind of signage Snodey envisioned outside the proposed medical cannabis clinic.

“Potentially a cross or green cross,” said Snodey. “Of course I’d want to keep the signage very discreet.”

Residents were quick to share their concerns about the consistency of the proposal, children walking by the clinic and the type of clientele the clinic would attract.

“First it was a medical clinic, then a healing center and now a medical clinic with multiple physicians,” resident Rachel Ponce said. “This medical clinic is not conducive to the historic district. We must preserve the historical, peaceful and quiet atmosphere that tourists come to experience here.”

Resident Jackie Morris, sporting medical scrubs, said she got the impression that people were uninformed, both in the audience and on the dais.

“You all need to go home and do your homework,” Morris said. “What I’m hearing here is that the town is okay with having ABC licenses dispensed to quite a few people coming in. It’s okay to walk past drinking establishments that spill out into the streets and smoke cigarettes. That’s okay with some people, but it’s not okay for a legal herb that has been proven to have medicinal value and is being legalized in our state for recreational use for consenting adults?”

Morris described the issue as a dilemma.

“I feel like this poor, young woman has been beaten up and I’m coming to her defense just so you folks can go home and do your homework,” she said.

Commissioner John Hopper addressed Morris’s advice.

“I’m very well educated about it,” Hopper said. “I’m a strong supporter of medical marijuana.”

While he thought the clinic proposal had the potential to be a strong business opportunity for the city, the issue was its location within the historic resources district. He also took issue with signage.

“I’m not going to allow a green cross, 420 or anything like that,” Hopper said. “Thousands of fourth graders unfortunately walk by all the bars in this town and they would be walking by this newly permitted use in town. So I’m not in favor of this medical clinic usage. I don’t think I’d be in favor of this if it were a dentist, to be honest with you.”

Ultimately, commissioners Hopper, Darlene Boyd and Andy Moore voted 3-0 not to approve the medical clinic application.

Commissioners Scott Freels and Ernest Franco were absent.

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