Reefer Madness Still Lives in Ojai

Sespe Creek CEO, Chelsea Sutula and Marketing Manager, Michelle Rosenblum, alongside Shangri-La Owner, Jeff Kroll, stepped up once again to advocate for a common-sense cannabis consumption ordinance. The Ojai City Council considered a proposed revisal from the city staff for an ordinance that would allow the three licensed dispensaries to have adjacent or onsite consumption lounges in the industrial zone. To us and the majority of the City Council, it fell short of the normalization we were all seeking.

“Thank you, City Council, I am happy you are considering lounges, it does mean a lot to us, and we appreciate the time you have spent researching the issue. However, I do want more. I was hoping we could just bundle it up, get it done and not bring it back every 3-6-12 months, over and over.

I came here with a battle plan and I felt inspired by Brian Berman‘s talk earlier to change it to a peace plan. I’m trying to get you guys to understand that this is my peace work. People take cannabis for pain, to reduce anxiety, to help them sleep. These are all things to do with feeling at peace and I really want to drive that home. This is not about me, this about my thousands of customers that love my product and feel too taboo to come speak up on their own — but you’ve read their public comments…  we don’t yet feel like Ojai is allowing us to bring the peace fully. We should be zoned properly.”

Chelsea Sutula, CEO – Sespe Creek

“We asked for consumption, and you are presenting consumption. We also asked to be treated with the same respect that you give to restaurants, bars, and other retailers. How can we say that we are normalizing cannabis when we are still segregated from the rest of the community — out of sight and out of mind?

I can’t help but to make the analogy that when it comes to cannabis, your current proposal continues to keep us in the closet. Let’s come out of the closet in style, with a modern and hip location that will attract locals and tourists to the East End. Let’s give them the best in Ojai weather and scenery. A farmers market patio where consumers can meet and greet the growers, outside in the same California sun and fresh air that these beautiful plants were grown in.”

Michelle Rosenblum, Marketing Manager – Sespe Creek

Unfortunately, while most of the City Council wanted to vote to move an ordinance forward, between the Planning Commission and the city staff, an acceptable plan simply has not been put together. Mayor Betsy Stix, without voicing her opinion on the topic at all, gave a cagey nod to “democracy” as she made a surprise motion to give the topic to the next elected council to decide, not giving any reassurance to the hard work that has been put into this project for the last year and a half. While the rest of the council did not second her motion, they eventually did all agree that the scope of this project was beyond their current capabilities and time constraints.

“I woke up feeling angry and frustrated that I did not advocate for adopting the ordinance that was before us last night… I feel like these delays to move forward are utterly disrespectful of everyone’s time. I can only hope that with all the time that we’ve invested that this delay ends up with a much better ordinance. It makes no sense that we limited public comments last night to three minutes when what you have to say is informing (educating) the council, but the council is allowed unlimited time to talk on a subject they are not experts in.”

Councilmember Suza Francina – City of Ojai (Emailed to Sespe the following morning)

While it is clear the City of Ojai has good intentions of allowing cannabis lounges, they need more help making it happen. The City Council’s next steps are for each member to put in writing their own ways of how they see cannabis lounges working in Ojai. At Sespe Creek, we are going to further invest in ways to help the city draft a reasonable and fair ordinance.

Big thank you to Jeff Kroll for continuing to show up and fight to normalize cannabis. We also cannot express enough how much we appreciate all our supporters who show up, call in, write to the city, and send us encouragement!

Lastly, we no longer hesitate to call out Ojai Leeches Greens for never showing up or writing in to support this movement and community, even though they benefit from our advocacy and efforts. 

Have something to say? Write to the City of Ojai:

One comment on “Reefer Madness Still Lives in Ojai

  1. I’m 83 years old and broke my back in 1963 paralyzed from the wast down alone with excruciating pain unable to walk for over a year. Cannabis let’s me live a pretty normal life , with out the
    Excruciating pain .

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