Walk-In Medical Marijuana Dispensary Coming to Santa Barbara

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Nkechi Ikem

A local man will open a medical marijuana dispensary in downtown Santa Barbara after he was granted approval to do so by the City Planning Commission in August. Ihab Ghannam will open his dispensary, called Santa Barbara Collective, in early 2018.

Getting approval for the dispensary took years of effort. In 2015, Ghannam failed to secure a permit to continue operations from the Santa Barbara Planning Commission. The city’s Staff Hearing Officer Susan Reardon claimed that, among other issues such as parking and security, the De La Vina site did not seem like “the appropriate building for this type of use.”

Several residents in the neighborhood also complained about the construction of a new dispensary in the area, Noozhawk reported. One resident referred to the dispensary, and others like it, as “neighborhood killers” and an attraction for “unwanted crime problems.”

Despite such struggles, the Santa Barbara Collective finally gained its approval from the commission in August. Looking back, Ghannam told The Bottom Line that he had doubts about getting an approval, calling the process “very complicated” and “very expensive.” A few times along the way, he said, he wanted to ask, “why are they giving me a hard time?”

“A lot of people told me, ‘just leave it, man, leave it,’” Ghannam said. “‘Don’t go for it. You are spending a lot of money and probably they are not going to approve you.’”

Now that the dispensary is set in stone, Ghannam said he plans on building a very “upscale” dispensary. The majority of his growers are from Santa Barbara, and he plans to have a “knowledgeable”  team.

Ghannam said that building the dispensary was tied to personal medical reasons. Following his own difficulties in finding a medical marijuana dispensary for a close family member who was diagnosed with cancer, Ghannam was inspired to build one for the Santa Barbara community himself.

The dispensary won’t be exclusive to downtown residents. University of California, Santa Barbara students also use marijuana for medical purposes. At the moment, most order from delivery services, but Ghannam’s dispensary will allow people to make purchases in person.

Fourth-year double major in sociology and history Roseline Aka’naizerigwe said she uses marijuana for insomnia and painful period cramps.

“I would be in bed for three hours trying to go to sleep.” said Aka’naizerigwe about her insomnia before she starting using marijuana during her freshmen year in college.

Isla Vista resident Keith Watts uses marijuana for insomnia and chronic migraines. He said he previously tried prescriptions for sleeping medications.

“I remember in high school I would take three of those strong sleeping medications and would still lie awake all night,” Watts said. “[Marijuana] is the one thing I’ve found that actually helps.”

The Santa Barbara Collective will be located at 2609 De La Vina Street.

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