Illegal pot shops

Organic Health Solutions on Rosamond Boulevard was one of six illegal marijuana businesses raided by Kern County Sheriff’s officials in Rosamond last week, seizing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of marijuana products and cash and arresting four people.

ROSAMOND — A half-dozen marijuana outlets operating illegally in Rosamond were raided last week by Kern County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement personnel, seizing more than $950,000 in products and cash and arresting four people.

Narcotics unit investigators, with the assistance of the Kern County Probation Department and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, executed search warrants at Vape and Bake, 2689 Sier­ra Hwy., Unit B; The Green Empire, 1379 Sierra Hwy.; and Mr. 5 Gramz, 2949 Sierra Hwy.; on Jan. 15, and at Organic Healthcare Solutions, 1315 Rosamond Blvd.; Lights Out Wellness, 1739 Poplar St.; and Wicked Weed, 2736 Sierra Hwy., on Jan. 17.

During the two days of activity, investigators seized a total of 153 pounds of processed marijuana with an estimated street value of $694,620; 3,972 grams of marijuana concentrates with an estimated street value of $191,960; 1,389 packages of marijuana edibles with an estimated street value of $27,780 and $39,998 in cash, according to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.

In the process, investigators arrested Sebastian Navarro, 20; Adam Eyre, 41; Richard Ariel, 32; and Karina Lua, 27 for charges including felony maintaining a place for the purpose of sales, misdemeanor possession of marijuana for sales and illegal operation of a marijuana dispensary.

All four were booked into the Kern County Jail pending court appearances, officials said.

All six marijuana outlets were operating in violation of Kern County’s October 2017 ban on commercial marijuana businesses in the unincorporated areas and nearly eight months beyond the deadline for them to close.

Following the ban, 29 medical marijuana outlets across the county were allowed time to orderly close their businesses, with a final deadline for ceasing operations on May 24.

However, a number of outlets continued to operate beyond the deadline and have been subject to enforcement actions.

The proliferation of marijuana dispensaries in Rosamond, especially in the downtown business district centered on Sierra Highway and Diamond Street, has been a chief concern and complaint of residents there for several years.

The unincorporated community is one of two in Kern County that have borne the brunt of the medical marijuana dispensaries, with as many as 18 to 20 at a time in the small community.

Prior to state regulations governing the commercial marijuana industry, there were few effective tools available for addressing illegal dispensaries, other than through the civil courts. This process proved to be lengthy, cumbersome and many times resulted in outcomes not in the county’s favor.

With the advent of new regulations, the county moved from civil to criminal proceedings against illegal outlets.

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