Delano neighbors see changes after pot shops complaints

Delano neighbors see changes after pot shops complaints »Play Video
DELANO, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Changes are underway in a Delano neighborhood after an Eyewitness News investigation into medical marijuana dispensaries.

Two dispensaries had set up in an area near a church, a park and a facility for disabled adults. As of Thursday, both are on the way out.

"Channel 29 came out and did a story and made some people concerned enough to move their businesses," Mike Gutierrez said.

He's the executive director of the Delano Association for the Developmentally Disabled. They have an adult day care directly across the street from the two dispensaries at 6th and Main Street.

"Because of these businesses, the clientele that frequents these businesses, it's really not a good mix," Gutierrez said.

He said a few days ago, both dispensaries started to shut down. On the corner, a man answered the door and said that facility is closing.

"We're not moving, we're shutting down," he said -- declining to give his name. The man said police came out and said there were complaints. That happened after the news report.

Gutierrez said there was a stronger reaction from the other dispensary.

"It upset some people," Gutierrez said. He described "hard stares" from some of the customers, and some rude gestures.

That facility now has a sign on the door saying they have moved.

Ray Hacker stopped to look at the sign, saying he is a medical marijuana patient who came to this dispensary about once a month.

"I've never seen the slightest hint of any kind of trouble," he commented. He hoped the dispensary, "Mother Nature, Inc." was relocating somewhere else in Delano.

Eyewitness News discovered it is now situated near the airport in an office complex on South Lexington Street. Two men who answered the door said they were not open yet.

One man said the dispensary had its articles of incorporation, seller's permit and is paying taxes to the state. He said the dispensary has applied for a business license from the City of Delano.

Eyewitness News has asked for clarification about the city's rules on medical marijuana dispensaries.

On Thursday a reporter was told the city manager has no comment, and the police chief can't comment until he gets information from the city attorney.

In 2006, the city enacted an interim urgency ordinance setting up a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

"Currently there is no medical marijuana dispensary legally operating in the City," that ordinance reads. "A medical marijuana dispensary is not currently an expressly permitted use or a use permitted subject to approval of a conditional use permit in any zone district in the City of Delano."

Eyewitness News checked into the location where Mother Nature is setting up. It appears to be within the city, and the office complex appears to be owned by Lexington Business Park, LLC.

"I think this fulfills a need in the community," medical marijuana patient Ray Hacker said. He suffers with pain after having a stroke. "I'd rather come here and pay my fair share of taxes, than deal with someone on the street."

But, Mike Gutierrez is relieved the two dispensaries seem to be leaving the area where his centers are located.

"I feel much better for the people we work with," Gutierrez said. "I guess, if you have to allow people to sell (the marijuana), it should be in a places that are outside of areas like this."