Cannabis might have been the night’s topic, but the monthly meeting of the Business License Commission was anything but mellow.
The Commission convened Tuesday evening to review two applications for a new type of cannabis permit: the Legacy Medical Cannabis Business License.
The license was created specifically for West Hollywood’s original medical cannabis dispensaries, a group of four that includes last night’s applicants, MedMen WeHo and Zen Healing WeHo.
Since January 2018, the four dispensaries have been allowed to sell “adult-use” (recreational) cannabis under a temporary permit, in addition to the medical product they were approved for originally. The Legacy license allows them to continue selling both types in a more permanent fashion.
Sparks flew almost from the get-go during Zen Healing’s review.
The Commission was surprised to learn that the business had received 38 complaints related to noise blaring from customers’ cars — “99 percent” of which had been filed by the same person, resident Mark Arabak, who lives behind Zen Healing.
Commissioners grilled the applicants and city staff on the subject, trying to get to the bottom of it.
“The neighborhood being safe is obviously a big concern for us,” said Amanda Pagal, Zen Healing’s manager. “We don’t take it lightly in any way. I’ve personally spoken to my neighbor more times than I can count on my fingers and toes trying it in good faith to build a good relationship and to be a good neighbor. And I’m still trying and I’m still doing my best but at the end of the day I really do feel like it’s a losing battle.”
Pagal also took issue with the city’s new requirement that they have three security guards instead of two.
“We’ve used our security and staff to try and address the problem. I would just ask if the commission will consider since this is a small business, it’s not a nationwide brand, it is a stronger burden on this business to require three security guards.”
Mitzi Mogul, whose family has owned and since 1961, was a little more unfiltered.
“I’m surprised that the Commissioners are unaware of this guy. It is the same guy making all of these complaints. He is a fruitcake. You cannot speak to him. He is impossible and he invents things and he has trespassed on the property,” she said. “All I can say is I wish that every tenant was as good a tenant as Zen Healing.”
Mark Arabak called in during public comment to defend himself.
“For the last half hour, my character has been assaulted, and I don’t like it,” he said. “If it wasn’t for me the Zen Healing lot that Joel Mogul owns would be a hell hole. I remember everything. I see everything. My quality of life has been affected. You definitely need a third security guard on the plot.”
Commissioners were somewhat sympathetic toward Arabak and considered ideas on how to alleviate the issue.
“I just feel like (Zen Healing) really missed the opportunity in trying to correct this and trying to rise above the issues that they had,” said Commissioner Anthony Vulin. “Whether the 38 complaints are legitimate or not, I know from my experience just walking by that I’ve almost never seen a security guard in front, and I always see people out in the front smoking so I believe there is some credibility to the complaints.”
Ultimately, the Commission decided the complaints weren’t enough to deny their approval. They also approved a Legacy license for MedMen.
Sherri Franklin with WeHo’s Chamber of Commerce called in to offer her support for both businesses.
“They are long-standing businesses in West Hollywood. They were the first and we really appreciate their leadership here, and also helping us to be the kind of City that’s going to stay in the forefront for cannabis across the world, so we’re very excited about this.”