The possibility of revoking the licenses granted to marijuana merchants in unincorporated Riverside County communities for failure to open their outlets under the conditions they promised will be examined by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.
Supervisor Kevin Jeffries will ask his colleagues to join him in a proposal to have the Office of County Counsel and Transportation & Land Management Agency initiate investigations into operators that were granted conditional use permits but that haven’t made any progress toward opening their doors.
“Cannabis (permits) are unique in the attention they draw and the controversy they bring, and the higher standards we have imposed upon them to mitigate potential adverse impacts on neighbors,” Jeffries said in a statement posted to the board’s agenda.
“Many of these licensees made promises to the board to fix existing negative conditions on-site in exchange for their permits, and others are occupying valuable commercial space without producing value, while limiting the abilities of other potential applicants to come in and actually open their business.”
The supervisor said that nearly two dozen cannabis business permits have been authorized by the board since December 2019, but of those, “only two have actually opened.”
One of the unopened outlets, “Empire Connect” in Lakeland Village, was strongly opposed by residents when it came before the board in January 2021. According to Jeffries, who supported it only after receiving assurances from the proprietors that they would be making improvements to the space intended for marijuana sales, there has been no modification to the site, which “continues to be a nuisance for graffiti and debris, and until recently was surrounded with an unattractive mesh fencing.”
The supervisor said that while the county has provisions for expeditiously revoking a permit after a business opens and fails to meet its obligations, there is no clear policy in effect for contending with “cannabis licensees who have not yet opened their business, or who have abandoned their site entirely.”
Jeffries is seeking full board support in directing county attorneys and TLMA personnel to identify methods that might be applied to remedy the problem. If approved, staff would be required to return to the board in 90 days with a report.
In addition to Lakeland Village, the board has signed off on cannabis dispensaries and manufacturing facilities in the unincorporated communities of Bermuda Dunes, Coronita, East Hemet, Green Acres, Highgrove, Lakeland Village, Mead Valley, Temescal Valley, Thousand Palms, and Winchester.
In January, Jeffries asked TLMA to stop bringing proposed conditional use permits for cannabis facilities approved by the county Planning Commission to the board because of the glut of permits authorized but not acted on, locking up space that otherwise could be utilized by other businesses.
The county’s 2018 Marijuana Comprehensive Regulatory Framework, codified under Ordinance No. 348, provides for steps that prospective businesses must take to be eligible for permits. Safety and health safeguards are part of the regulatory system.