ROSAMOND — Marijuana outlets deemed temporarily legal in Rosamond failed to convince Kern County Board of Supervisors to allow them to stay open until November instead of May and in three of four cases will be forced to shut down even sooner, before the end of the month.
Kern County banned all commercial marijuana business activities in the unincorporated areas in October 2017, but a handful of medical use dispensaries were given time for an orderly shutdown, with certain conditions they had to meet. Most have not met those conditions, according to county officials.
The businesses presented their appeals during a special meeting on Monday in Bakersfield, asking for an additional six-month extension to this amortization period in order to recoup their investments.
These businesses had been granted an extra month to gather additional information to make their case before the Board, after their first hearings on the matter on Feb. 12.
Marijuana outlets have long been an issue in Rosamond, where they have proliferated, particularly in the traditional downtown business district along Diamond Street and Sierra Highway.
The four Rosamond businesses in question were: AVDC, 1733 Sierra Highway; Tanner Vest Collective, 2753 Diamond St.; The Plum Tree Collective, 2873 Sierra Highway; and Organic Health Solutions, 1315 Rosamond Blvd., Suite A.
AVDC will be allowed to remain open until no later than May 24. This is six months longer than the original one-year period provided and was granted by a county hearing officer in September.
The other three businesses, however, must close by March 28.
A fifth business, Vape and Bake, at 2689 Sierra Highway, Unit B, withdrew its appeal of the order to close in May prior to the February meeting and will be allowed to remain opened until no later than May 24.
Supervisor Zack Scrivner, whose Second District includes Rosamond, made the motion in each case, citing what he felt was insufficient evidence that the businesses had not already been provided with enough time for an orderly close of their outlets.
Calling Rosamond “a town that has been inundated by medical marijuana dispensaries over the course of the last several years,” he said he did not agree with even the six-month extension beyond the original November 2018 date provided by the hearing officer without consultation with the Board.
“What we’re doing here today isn’t to talk about the merits of having the dispensaries or not having them. That has already been decided,” he said. “We’re here to talk about the amortization period that has been provided and whether or not that amortization period has been appropriate.”
Businesses like these that were allowed to stay open long enough for an orderly closure were considered “legal non-conforming” businesses because they were established under an earlier ordinance and prior to the county’s May 2016 moratorium on new or relocated dispensaries.
The ordinance banning marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas has provisions for these businesses previously deemed legal to have a year to close down, as required by federal law to allow the businesses to recoup their investment following the change in laws.
While allowed to continue operating during an orderly shutdown, these outlets also were required to “get legal” by obtaining building permits and state licenses, which not all outlets complied with.
Scrivner supported allowing the full six-month extension for AVDC, but not the requested additional six months, in part because the business had made a good faith effort to comply with an earlier county ordinance by moving to an industrial-zoned area.
The business had also more completely documented its capital costs to be recouped than other businesses under consideration.
In all four cases, Scrivner said he had to weigh the appropriateness of the amortization period with the abundant health and safety concerns of the community, which has had as many as 19 dispensaries at a time.
Members of the Rosamond Municipal Advisory Council spoke about the impact of the outlets on the community and against granting an additional extension to the businesses.
“By and large the community has been very much against cannabis,” Council Chairman Bill Parkman said. “Members of the council get approached every day in Rosamond about when are we going to get something done about this.”
For each of the three businesses required to close by March 28, the deadline is 125 days beyond the original one-year amortization period.
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