Sebastopol planning commission approves second pot shop

Sebastopol planning commissioners have given unanimous support to plans for a second medical cannabis dispensary that would-be operators hope to open on the south end of town early next year.

The commission voted 5-0 Tuesday night after a three-hour hearing to grant a use permit to local attorney Jonathan Melrod and Traditional Living Inc., in which he is a partner.

“The meeting went beyond the best I could have hoped,” Melrod said Wednesday. “They embraced the need for a new dispensary and competition.”

But the City Council still must affirm the commission’s recommendation for a change in the current city zoning provision allowing only a single dispensary to operate inside city limits. The council will take up that issue Dec. 20, city Planning Director Kenyon Webster said.

Jim Costello, owner of the Southpoint Shopping Center on Gravenstein Highway South, where Traditional Living plans to locate, has said he will lease the space only if California voters legalize nonmedicinal, adult cannabis use by approving Proposition 64 on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Costello said he doesn’t want there to be any question about the public’s acceptance of marijuana use if he allows a medical dispensary in his retail space.

Melrod survived what he was told was terminal cancer 12 years ago, as well as a second bout of cancer several years later, in part by turning to alternative medicines like cannabis to treat symptoms and medical side-effects. He said he and his team envision a health and wellness center that will provide education, awareness and support, as well as cannabis, to patients.

Having the commission’s support is “really quite rewarding,” he said.

Melrod said he thought the dispensary could be open about three months after final approvals are granted.

Sebastopol has one other dispensary, Peace in Medicine, which opened in 2007. It is operated by City Councilman Robert Jacob, who is executive director.

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 707-521-5249 or On Twitter @MaryCallahanB.

Mary Callahan

Environment and Climate Change, The Press Democrat

I am in awe of the breathtaking nature here in Sonoma County and am so grateful to live in this spectacular region we call home. I am amazed, too, by the expertise in our community and by the commitment to protecting the land, its waterways, its wildlife and its residents. My goal is to improve understanding of the issues, to find hope and to help all of us navigate the future of our environment. 

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