A business called North County Natural applied for a permit to begin setting up a Medical Marijuana Collective at 8530 Nelson Way in Valley Center earlier this month. Nelson Way runs east from Old Highway 395, near the I-15 Freeway.
The permit allows the 1,700 square foot single family home at the property to be converted into a business. The building permit allows some partitions for an office area, a dispensary area, two restrooms, a kitchenette and a lobby. It also calls for the replacement of windows with shatterproof glass and the addition of steel doors.
Oliver Smith, chairman of the Valley Center Community Planning Group, learned of the permit, contacted the county building division about the marijuana collective and asked several pertinent questions via email.
Vince Nicoletti, chief of the Building Division’s Planning & Development Services responded, “I understand a medical marijuana collective is a sensitive activity for all communities and we are happy to answer any questions we can.”
Smith’s first question was about the “ministerial,” as opposed to discretionary, nature of the application.
Nicoletti wrote back that granting the permit was ministerial rather than discretionary because the changes met all of the county’s requirements for the building and property, and that “approval of a Site Plan is not required if the alterations to the interior of the structure are not visible from the outside,” according to the law.
Smith then asked, “What are the permit limitations, if any, regarding the impact to adjacent residential properties?”
Nicoletti also said the statutes would not allow an additional collective facility to be allowed within a 1,000 feet radius of the property at 8530 Nelson Way.
Despite the residence on it, the property is zoned for “limited-impact” industrial use.
Smith asked if the Valley Center substation would handle any permits and Nicoletti referred him to officials of the Sheriff’s License & Criminal Registration Division in Kearny Mesa.
Smith told the Times-Advocate that because of public meeting laws, the matter could not be discussed at last Monday’s meeting of the VCCPG. He also acknowledged that any action of the planning committee had been superceded by the county permit.
A call to the permit holder, North County Natural was not returned until last Monday afternoon.
A representative of the project called the Times-Advocate to decline comment, only saying that “if anything does happen there, it’s going to be quite a few months away.”
Smith said the next community planning meeting on Monday, Jan. 11, would offer an open forum on the Medical Marijuana Collective at Valley Center Community Hall, 28246 Lilac Road.
The forum would “provide an opportunity for the community to be involved, yet keep the proceedings civil, if not courteous. Blunting flaming rhetoric is a major element of this,” Smith wrote.
“If it were to be an adjacent property to where I live, I would definitely want the opportunity to directly ask questions of these groups and hear their answers,” he added. The forum would offer an opportunity to see what the county ordinance requirements are “and have an opportunity to question those that appear not to be applied properly,” he wrote.
A website, weedmaps.com lists 17 medical marijuana dispensaries in Vista and one in San Marcos, which has prohibited medical marijuana facilities since 1996. There is one delivery-only dispensary listed in Escondido.
Medical marijuana may become moot within a few years. Backers of the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative 2016 began gathering signatures in November for next years ballot.
Twenty-three states have legalized medical marijuana. Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Colorado have legalized it for recreational use. Delaware recently decriminalized possession of marijuana.