Monterey, California – Carmel Valley’s Aram Stoney and John DeFloria are cultivating a rather unique business model at the Carmel Rancho Shopping Center – the county’s first licensed brick-and-mortar medical marijuana dispensary.
Otherwise known as Big Sur Canna-Botanicals, the high-end, low-key dispensary received overwhelming support during their application hearing for a land-use permit on June 14. Boisterous and supportive of the proposed business model, the crowd exploded with cheers as the Monterey County Planning Commission hearing concluded on a seriously elevated note.
Anticipating a green light soon on their license application, the local entrepreneurs intend on opening their dispensary by late-September. Once operational, they will have the first licensed medical marijuana dispensary in Monterey County’s unincorporated area. Stoney and DeFloria submitted their business permit application on June 27 and are still waiting to receive their license from the Monterey County Treasurer.
First incorporated in 2014 in compliance with Prop 215’s Compassionate Use Act, Big Sur Canna-Botanicals made their inaugural delivery in Oct. of 2015. Delivering medical marijuana to patients in Carmel Valley and throughout the remote community of Big Sur, Stoney and DeFloria have earned the respect and praise of Monterey County’s isolated medical marijuana patients.
Monterey County Planning Commission Says Yes to Big Sur Canna-Botanicals
After first hearing from the attorney for Big Sur Canna-Botanicals, Jennifer Rosenthal, a long line of patients stepped up to the microphone before the planning commission in support of their Carmel Rancho dispensary.
Dr. Deborah Malka was the first to speak before the Monterey County Planning Commission. The medical marijuana doctor on the Monterey Peninsula emphasized Stoney and DeFloria’s long-standing ties to the Peninsula, underscoring the beneficial nature of their delivery service for the county’s elderly patients. Dr. Malka noted that 25% of her 5,000-plus patients are 60 years old or older, and “They’re not that mobile.” Summarizing her position before for the planning commission, Malka explained that Big Sur Canna-Botanicals services the elderly sector in Monterey County and she strongly supports their efforts.
Also on board with Big Sur Canna-Botanicals was Carmel Valley’s Paula Lotz. A primary caregiver for her elderly mother, Mrs. Lotz explained how medical marijuana has helped her 80-year-old mother cope with the unrelenting pain associated with aging. In hospice and suffering from congestive heart failure, Lotz described the remedial value her mother received from medicinal cannabis. Mrs. Lotz currently purchases her mother’s medication via home delivery but would prefer a retail experience. Appreciative of the service Big Sur Canna-Botanicals already provides, Lotz would like to shop where she can learn more about the healing herb.
The third person to step before the mic and provide testimony had one of the more compelling stories. A registered nurse on the Monterey Peninsula for over 45 years, and former nurse at a retirement community located on Carmel Valley Road, Karen Mankins spoke the unvarnished truth.
“Four years ago one of my residents started medical marijuana and she went off of six drugs. And was doing, actually, fantastic. Then, all of a sudden, all the residents there decided they wanted cannabis. So, I saw the need out here in Monterey County, and if it wasn’t for Big Sur Canna-Botanicals, those residents wouldn’t be able to be off of their drugs and their pharmaceuticals and using cannabis successfully.”
A former registered nurse at Carmel Valley Manor for 17 years, Mankins is now an advocate for medicinal cannabis.
As the hearing progressed, a long line of highly educated individuals spoke before the planning commission, regaling them with encouraging stories of hope, optimism, and truly compassionate medicine.
Lifelong residents of the Monterey Peninsula, Stoney and DeFloria are passionate about helping educate the uninformed public about the curative effects of medicinal cannabis. As the planning commission announced their decision, the crowd erupted with appreciation. Dedicated to cultivating a positive light for Monterey County’s marijuana industry, Stoney and DeFloria received unanimous approval from the Monterey County Planning Commission for their Carmel Rancho dispensary.
Watch the below YouTube video to view the emotional hearing.
By restricting outdoor cultivation, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and its Planning Commission have changed the complexion of medical marijuana cultivation on the Central Coast. According to the Monterey County Resource Management Agency, individuals interested in participating in the medical marijuana businesses within unincorporated Monterey County must “obtain and maintain” the following permits.
- All applicable State licenses once they become required in 2018
- A Use Permit (in the inland zones) or Coastal Development Permit (in the Coastal zone) from the Monterey County Resource Management Agency Planning Division
- A Commercial Medical Cannabis Permit and a Business License, if and when applicable, from the Monterey County Treasurer / Tax Collector
Additionally, all marijuana operations must be located in the appropriate zoning district and may not be located within 600 feet of a school, park, or drug recovery facility.
Most importantly, all cultivation must be conducted within existing warehouse or greenhouse space that was legally established before January 1, 2016.
The potential end of an era for commercial outdoor MMJ cultivators
In compliance with Monterey County’s newest regulations on the Central Coast, Big Sur Canna-Botanicals no longer cultivates in their Big Sur garden. While the glory days of growing these beautiful plants under natural sunlight are seemingly gone in Monterey County, Stoney and DeFolria have continued to work diligently with the county in hopes of regaining the right to grow outdoors.
A big 420-thanks to Big Sur Canna-Botanicals for spreading the seeds of knowledge across the beautiful Monterey Peninsula.