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Battle Over Plan To Open Pot Dispensary Next Door To Santa Rosa Preschool

SANTA ROSA (KPIX) - Fifteen months into the era of legalized cannabis, California cities are still wrestling with the very basic question of where the products should be sold. In Santa Rosa, that has become a very specific discussion.

"This is the only dispensary on the east side of Santa Rosa, from downtown to here," explains Nick Caston, a representative of the proposed Fox Den Dispensary. "And it's the only proposal that's moving forward to provide any access to east Santa Rosa."

One local business owner doesn't necessarily see that as a positive.

"It's not that we don't want the dispensaries in Santa Rosa," says Huia Clifton-Pope, owner of Kiwi Preschool & Childcare. "It's just that the locations need to be more appropriate."

This is a story about location location location, in this case, a preschool, a bicycle bar, and a proposed cannabis dispensary.

Kiwi Preschool and Childcare sits right behind the Fox Den property, its playground separated by a wall and some trees. The Trailhouse bike shop, it would sit right in the dispensary's front door.

"The traffic is the biggest thing," says Trailhouse owner Shane Bresnyan. "It's safety in the parking lot, you know? Just going out this back door it's a thoroughfare. You increase traffic by 100, 400 cars a day, the chances go up."

The real push back is coming from Kiwi, because Santa Rosa law prohibits dispensaries from operating near to schools. But this case has revealed what some see as a loophole in that ordinance.

"They are saying that because we are not K-12 full time, that we are not considered to be a school," said Clifton-Pope. "In my view, it really shouldn't matter what age children are."

Clifton-Pope is asking parents to attend Tuesday night's meeting. She says this is simply a matter of safety for her students.

"And the mere fact that full-time, around-the-clock security is needed during their opening hours suggest strongly that it is an unsafe environment," she said.

The representative for Fox Den Dispensary says this is just old resistance to a new economy.

"People are going to have to work through that change," says Caston. "There's a lot of need for education, but that education really can't start until we have facilities like this one open."

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