Company claims a Merced marijuana dispensary is too close to a school

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- A company claims one of the pot dispensaries picked to open in Merced is too close to a school.

The site in question is part of the Merced County Office of Education.

This means it could be a very long time until Merced sees a fourth dispensary.

The planning commission now has to determine if Wolfe Center is a school.

If that's the case, it may mean that Harvest of Merced may not be able to open their doors in the city.

"Staff is doing its best to get information on the activities at the site, and the definitions in our ordinances and relevant information to give to the planning commission," said Merced Principal Planner Michael Wren.

Two applicants for marijuana dispensaries are butting heads over whether Harvest of Merced is too close to a school.

The fifth top applicant called Medallion Wellness, filed an appeal against Harvest of Merced, claiming that it's an under the 1,000 feet sensitive use buffer the city requires.

"We commissioned our own survey and went out and measured using verified landmarks and lot lines, and it was just over 981 feet away," said the attorney for Medallion Wellness Zach Drivon.

Merced County Office of Education officials says the district does have classes ranging from vocational training to adult education at the site.

The superintendent wasn't available for an on-camera interview, but Action News did receive a statement from Steve Tietjen.

Which in part says: "The critical factor to me is that the portion of our property that is in the 1,000-foot radius to the proposed dispensary serves a special education transition classroom and our foster youth services classroom, which does serve minors."

"We only measured from the larger parcel because that where we were told activities were occurring at the time," said Wren.

The attorney for Medallion Wellness says they've sent over all their finding to the city.

"The Wolfe Center meets every definition of a school whether you're talking about the standard the city of Merced has adopted, meaning any location that provides K-12 instruction," said Drivon.

Harvest of Merced officials also sent Action News a response, stating the company is committed to the Merced community and welcomes to chance to show that the planning commission's original choice to grant the permit was quote "the correct decision."

City officials say they're looking over all the information, and may decide whether they approve or deny Harvest of Merced's permit at the next meeting on November 14th.

City officials add that this will not affect the other three dispensary permits approved.

The planning commission could decide to continue to decide if they feel they don't have enough information, which could delay the process of opening a fourth dispensary even longer.
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