Dipsea Cafe Owner Among Applicants For Medical Marijuana Dispensary


After 30 years of serving coffee and pancakes, John Siotos, owner of the beloved Dipsea Cafe, wants to serve medical marijuana instead.

“I became a believer in medical marijuana after my wife passed,” he said. “I found that it helped her find relief.”

Siotos, of San Anselmo, is among 11 others vying for one of four coveted county-issued licenses to operate a medical pot dispensary – and in his case, it would replace his Tam Valley cafe.

The applications were cast Wednesday, the deadline to be considered through an exhaustive selection process the Board of Supervisors approved this year.

Currently, there are no legal medical marijuana dispensaries anywhere in the unincorporated county or in any of Marin’s 11 municipalities.

The supervisors previously adopted an ordinance that would allow four medical cannabis dispensaries in unincorporated Marin. Two dispensaries would be allowed along the highly populated Highway 101 corridor, in communities from Sausalito up to Novato. Another pair could operate in the rural regions, comprised of central and West Marin.


The elaborate selection program is broken up into four phases, beginning with the payment of a $6,000 application fee, which the 12 filed Wednesday.

In the Mill Valley community, there are five applicants, including four on Shoreline Highway, one of which is Siotos at 200 Shoreline Highway. The others include Dustin Pebbles, under business name Urban Hills, at 230 Shoreline Highway; Farid Harrison, of Crown Wellness, at 256 Shoreline Highway; Robert Elam, of Access Marin Wellness Center, at 150 Shoreline Highway; and Jason Alley, of Hunny’s Health Center, at 300 Poplar St.

Alex Boggio, of Delta 11, is the only San Rafael-area applicant at 70 San Pablo Ave. There are three applicants in the Novato region, including Doug Seiler, of Caregiver Compassion Group, at 5 Harbor Drive; Susie Krolicki, of Marin Compassionate Collective, also at 5 Harbor Drive; and Sabrina Fendrick, of Marin Community Partners, at 11 Harbor Drive.

Natalia Thurston, of Forest Knolls Wellness, has an application in for 6700 Sir Francis Drake Blvd; Deborah Reynolds, of Even Tide, is at 7282 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in Lagunitas; and Jyoti Sroa and Aaro Godbout, of Craft Canna Health Center, applied for a site at 20105 Highway 1, Marshall.


In Siotos’ case, he has been developing plans with his business partners Alexis Parle and Salwa Ibrahim for the past six months.

Parle, a Richmond resident who grew up in Corte Madera, is the founder and director of two cannabis centers: Green Remedy in Richmond and Telegraph Health Center in Oakland. Ibrahim, who lives in Fairfax, is the founder and executive director of Blum Oak Dispensary in Oakland.

Though they own competing businesses in Oakland, Ibrahim said they were moved by Siotos’ story and vision.

Siotos, whose wife Cori died in November last year, said that in her final months of a 15-year battle with breast cancer, she discovered the benefits of using medical marijuana.

“It helped her sleep, helped her eat, and she wasn’t in pain,” he said, noting she had been using experimental pharmaceuticals while undergoing chemotherapy treatments. “The other drugs just seemed to make it worse.”

The couple in 1986 opened the restaurant in downtown Mill Valley, then moved in 1991 to the Tam Junction site that overlooks the Richardson Bay marsh, where it still sits today.

Now, Siotos wants “to help make this medicine available to patients in our community who really need it,” he said. If all goes as planned, the restaurant could close as early as July next year.

Other applicants recognize it’s a crowded race.


Harrison, of San Francisco, is one of the five applicants competing for a dispensary in the Tam Junction area. He has two business partners: Matt Morea and John Fritzel. The latter is a known figure in the Colorado cannabis industry. As a group, they hold 24 cannabis licenses in Colorado, Las Vegas and Arizona.

“Our goal is to provide safe distribution of medical cannabis,” he said, noting that Marin County “is forward thinking,” and has “done better to manage the industry than most municipalities.”

Novato resident Boggio is the CEO of Delta 11, a medical marijuana delivery service distributing throughout Marin, parts of the East Bay and north to Santa Rosa.

He is working with his wife Erica and they have been leasing their building at 70 San Pablo for two years in anticipation of being granted a license for a dispensary. They are not currently operating distribution out of the building.

“I felt somebody had to step up to the plate and do it right,” he said. “There are too many people that wanted to come in and work a for-profit business. That’s not what we’re doing. We have a not-for-profit model.”


The selection process is expected to take four to eight months. Applicants were required to submit a business plan, an operating plan – ensuring that the dispensary will not generate a profit – a security plan, a site plan and a public benefits plan.

They also had to disclose all properties and uses within 1,000 feet of the property on which the dispensary permit is requested. The site plans must also include the property lines of any school, park or residential zone or use within 800 feet of the primary entrance of the dispensary.

After applications are reviewed by staff, a medical cannabis dispensary advisory committee to be appointed by County Administrator Matthew Hymel will hold public hearings – likely to be in November – to vet and rank the applications. Hymel will make the final selection. Applicants will have the option of appealing Hymel’s decision to the Board of Supervisors, which could result in the process taking even longer, and cost the appellant $1,200.

Dispensaries that are awarded a license will also pay an annual $12,000 “monitoring fee.”

“This is set up to be a competitive process,” said Tom Lai, assistant director of the community development agency. “Just because an applicant meets all of the criteria, that doesn’t mean they are going to get a permit. Their plan has to be well thought out.”

Lai said application materials will be posted online when sensitive material is redacted.

For more information, go to bit.ly/2c8WS1q.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Dipsea Cafe Owner Among Applicants For Medical Marijuana Dispensary
Author: Adrian Rodriquez
Contact: Marin Independent Journal
Photo Credit: Alan Dep
Website: Marin Independent Journal