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Cotati pot dispensary seeks OK to expand

Monday, March 19th, 2012 | Posted by | one response

By JEREMY HAY / The Press Democrat

A Cotati medical marijuana dispensary is asking the city to lift customer limits that were put in place when it opened in 2010.

“It’s probably the only business in Sonoma County, except for other dispensaries, where there’s a limit on the number of customers,” said Greg Lucas, owner of Mercy Wellness.

The dispensary, the only one in Cotati, is allowed 1,000 customers a month under the conditions of its use permit.

Mercy Wellness hasn’t “come close” to hitting that cap, Lucas said, but keeping track of the customer count is an accounting headache. Also, the business needs the leeway to expand if necessary, because he envisions eventually adding health services such as yoga and massage.

Lucas has also asked the city to increase the permitted dispensary size to 3,500 square feet from 1,000 square feet so he can add an office and a restroom. He also wants to install more signage — he’s now allowed six square feet — and to keep 30 pounds of marijuana in stock, up from 15 pounds.

To date, city officials have been friendly to all but one element of his application. Planning commissioners followed a staff recommendation and denied Lucas’s request for permission to sell smoking equipment.

“They were afraid of mass crowds out in front and that’s never happened,” Lucas said. “Now we’ve been there two years and we know what to expect.”

The application is expected to go before the City Council on March 28.

City Manager Dianne Thompson said, “I think that Greg Lucas has been running a good operation, and we haven’t had any issues.”

Mercy Wellness draws its customers mostly from mid- and south Sonoma County and has become a solid presence in the local industry, medical marijuana advocates said.

“They have a fine reputation. I’ve only heard good things about them,” said Kumari Sivadas, of the Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana, who helped write Cotati’s dispensary ordinance.

“Every time I go in there I’m really impressed with how they’re conforming to the regulations,” she said.

The dispensary is one of 11 in the county. Three others are in cities: two in Santa Rosa and one in Sebastopol. The county’s other six cities prohibit dispensaries. Seven dispensaries are located in unincorporated areas of the county, which in February set a limit of nine.

Both Santa Rosa dispensaries have caps in place of 500 customers a month. In the county, only Riverside Wellness in Guerneville has a limit, of 300 customers a month.


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Nick Walden is our Cotati and Penngrove correspondent.
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