A new alternative medicine store on Lighthouse Avenue in Monterey has neighboring businesses concerned the storefront will operate as a dispensary.
Selling marijuana of any kind are prohibited in the city of Monterey under the town’s cannabis dispensary moratorium ordinance.
Monterey Holistic Health claims it is only selling CBDs but its owner said she would like to get into the medical marijuana business in the future.
“Maybe someday but not at the shop,” said Danae Mckean over the phone on Tuesday.
CBDs are non-psychoactive cannabinoid compounds made from parts of the marijuana plant. The products do not get you high, and are already sold at smoke shops in Monterey.
“We’re not selling any marijuana here. This is not a dispensary. This is CBD store only,” said MHH consultant Ryan Murphy.
Mckean who has a Temecula California address, was supposed to be in Monterey to open the shop Friday, but instead sent her consultant to oversee the opening.
Neighboring shopkeepers first contacted KSBW when they saw the remodel going on at 623 Lighthouse and thought it looked like a dispensary. The business has a sitting area, long glass cases, and two visible security cameras.
Murphy said he was hired to get the business up and running but he is a man with a history of not playing by the rules when it comes to selling marijuana.
In 2015 the city of San Diego slapped Murphy and his business SoCal Holistic Health with a $1.8 million fine. The city claimed Murphy was operating a medical marijuana dispensary in violation of zoning ordinances.
San Diego ordered Murphy to shut down his business in 2014 but he continued to sell marijuana.
“I think it’s not just about the rules, it was about providing that medicine to patients,” he said about SoCal Holistic Health.
Murphy said he paid the fine and sold the business three years ago. On Friday employees with SoCal Holistic Health said Murphy is no longer associated with the business.
In Monterey said he plans to follow the rules but he hopes the city will consider lifting its moratorium in the future.
“I think it is something that the city should consider, there is obviously a lot of revenue, and there are a lot of patients here that could benefit from the THC as well, but in the meantime we’re going to respect what the city has in place,” he said.
Elizabeth Caraker with the city of Monterey said a letter has been sent to MHH reminding it that selling marijuana is prohibited.
MHH does show up on Weed Maps, a phone app that helps people find storefronts selling marijuana, but the app states the business only has CBDs for sale.
Monterey Police Department has had no issues with compliance but have received at least on complaint about the store. On Friday afternoon MPD officers were at the city’s finance office pulling a copy of the shop’s business license.
But Murphy said so far MHH has not had any problems with the city.
“We haven’t had any issues with them and we really don’t anticipate any issues because we are not breaking any laws here,” he said.
Murphy who is still living in Southern California, said in addition to opening MHH for Mckean, he is also planning to open a dispensary in Seaside. He said he has an application in for one of three locations on Broadway Avenue where dispensaries will be allowed.
In total Seaside plans to allow for six dispensaries in its commercial zone, the three on Broadway Avenue, another two on Fremont Avenue, and one on Canyon Del Rey Boulevard.
Mckean did not return our request for comment after the store’s opening on Friday but on Tuesday she also expressed hope Monterey would change its mind on dispensaries.