Donner Lake dispensary granted use permit

Hannah Jones

While the town approved commercial cannabis delivery services in June, one dispensary is facing backlash from community members for trying to obtain a use permit to operate out of a second-story suite in Donner Lake Village.

Despite safety concerns from residents in Donner Lake, Truckee Planning Commission granted Tahoe Herbal Care a use permit on Tuesday.

“There’s been public comment about this product being harmful to people. I don’t think that’s applicable to our discussion tonight,” said Commissioner Seth Kielas. “There is no perfect system that we can put into place that everyone will be happy with. In general we’re here to make sure that this business is compatible with the regulations that we set forward.”

“The zoning allows the use,” said Commissioner Jan Zabriskie.

All four planning commissioners agreed the project fits the town’s requirements, which took the town nearly two years to decide on.

“This has been an ongoing process. We went back and forth in terms of the different restrictions,” said Kielas.

Still members of the public felt that the zoning was not done correctly and should not allow for a dispensary at that location.

“It’s a zoning for families, it’s a destination area,” she said, adding Jennifer Barnaby, the owner of Tahoe Herbal Care, should be opening up shop at a different address.

“This is a family resort destination area,” said Megan Murdock, who recently purchased property in Donner Lake Village. “Certainly there could be another location where you could offer Miss Barnaby a place of business. To hear that a business like this will be on the premises is extremely disturbing.”

Other comments from the public addressed the possibility of increased crime associated with the business, the potential of the product getting into the wrong hands and cannabis odor coming from the building.

“The product that we transport is completely sealed and not visible to anyone coming and going,” said Barnaby. “The opportunity for crime associated with that is an extremely small window,” adding that the building has no signage and public may not be able to access it.

“All of the product comes to us in childproof sealed containers. We have no open product that’s available,” she said. “It’s even more contained than when you go to the pharmacy.”

In addition the business will have two large commercial air scrubbers that would mitigate any odor issues as well as a video surveillance system, Barnaby added.

The regulations approved in June allow businesses to only deliver. However, each delivery service must have a fixed location to run operations, at which direct sales cannot take place. The businesses cannot exceed 3,000 square feet or have a retail storefront. They must maintain at least 600 feet of distance from schools, day care and youth centers and will be limited to areas zoned for manufacturing, downtown manufacturing, service commercial and general commercial.

Businesses in the general commercial zone may not be located on a ground floor. In addition the town has the power to classify other sensitive areas in the future which businesses cannot be near, such as drug treatment centers. Members of the public voiced concern about its close proximity to the beach and the families that spend time there.

“In terms of location we’ve already decided what the sensitive uses are,” said Kielas. “A bunch of kids on a beach is not a sensitive use.”

Additionally, town regulations prohibit delivery to a publicly owned place or building.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at or 503-550-2652.

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