CA: The County's First Licensed Medical Cannabis Dispensary Is Open For Business

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Ron Strider

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With a giant wall-sized black-and-white photo mural of Bixby Bridge, polished concrete floors, dark wood paneling and leather furniture, the waiting room at Big Sur Canna+Botanicals looks more like a trendy wine bar or chic art gallery. Several ethereal contemporary artworks by a local artist hang on the walls.

The comparisons end there. At the security check-in, a man neatly dressed in a sports jacket and slacks at a wood-paneled podium checks customers' medical marijuana cards and identification. From there customers are greeted by receptionists, and finally, are invited to step through a door to the dispensary. The room features a long display case staffed by cannabis consultants.

This is the new face of the cannabis retail business, says co-owner Aram Stoney. Big Sur Canna+Botanicals, situated in the Carmel Rancho Shopping Center, caters to a crowd of mostly baby boomers. It's the first brick-and-mortar store for Stoney and partner John DeFloria, who have operated mostly as a delivery business since 2014. (Deliveries are on hold as they focus on launching the store.)

It's also the first cannabis shop to successfully navigate Monterey County's new licensing process after the Board of Supervisors placed a moratorium on issuing cannabis-related business licenses in 2015. Last December, Stoney and DeFloria were first in line to apply. Stoney says both they and county planners were "learning together" as they navigated the new process. "We did everything we were asked, and beyond that," he says.

Before they were issued the business license on Sept. 1, they secured a use permit from the Monterey County Planning Commission. Commissioners unanimously approved the permit on June 14, after more than a dozen residents spoke in favor of Big Sur Canna+Botanicals opening a storefront.

According to county planners, there are 15 dispensary applicants seeking approval of land-use permits. (If those permits are granted, proprietors have to seek a business license as the next step.) The county has yet to pass an ordinance regulating recreational cannabis, which becomes legal statewide in January. Until that time comes, Big Sur Canna+Botanicals will remain for medicinal use only.

For now, they have a corner on the medicinal cannabis market in the Carmel area. On Oct. 3, the Carmel City Council voted for the second time in eight months to ban all dispensaries, deliveries and outdoor cultivation.

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It will all be moved to licensed recreational dispensaries in California soon though. The latest from the BCC:


News Release: Licensing Authorities Announce Withdrawal of Proposed Medical Cannabis Regulations

Agencies Also Post Summary of Public Comments to Cannabis Portal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 29, 2017

Contact: Alex Traverso, Bureau of Cannabis Control, (916) 574-7546

SACRAMENTO – California’s three cannabis licensing authorities announced today the official withdrawal of the medical cannabis regulations that were proposed in late spring by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Cannabis Control, Department of Public Health’s Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch and Department of Food and Agriculture’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing. The official withdrawal will occur October 6. The proposed regulations were geared toward the implementation of the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act. These licensing authorities held hearings and accepted public comments regarding the proposed regulations during a 45-day public comment period.

However, in late June, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law, the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, which creates one regulatory system for both medicinal and adult-use cannabis. Because of that action, the licensing authorities will withdraw the proposed medical regulations and will instead move forward with one regulatory package for both medicinal and adult-use cannabis.

The three cannabis licensing authorities will develop emergency regulations based on the new law and will incorporate the robust and valuable public comment received on the proposed medical cannabis regulations. The summary of public comments, as well as the responses to those comments, received by each agency—either in writing or in person at one of the public comment forums hosted by the three agencies—can be viewed by clicking the links below:

Bureau of Cannabis Control: and