The end date has been set for medical cannabis sales within Kern County.
On Monday, the Kern County Board of Supervisors denied all final appeals of the eight remaining medical marijuana dispensaries, leaving May 24 as the unquestionable date at which legal cannabis can be sold within the county.
Supervisors had met three times previously to hear the appeals of a total of 18 dispensaries that wanted to stay open past the May 24 date by which county officials had determined cannabis sales must cease.
None of the dispensaries that came before supervisors had been granted extensions to their closing date.
Eight dispensaries decided to withdraw after the appeal of the first dispensary that came before the board in February was not only denied, but supervisors ruled that the dispensary must close within 10 days.
The pattern continued on Monday.
The first three dispensaries withdrew and three were ordered to close within 10 days. Two dispensaries managed to convince supervisors to allow them to remain open until May 24.
All dispensaries that came before the supervisors had argued that they needed additional time to recoup costs associated with investing in their businesses.
After banning marijuana sales in November 2017, the county allowed around 30 dispensaries to remain open during a yearlong amortization period that was extended by six months at the end of 2018.
Many of the dispensaries argued they had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in construction upgrades they said were necessary to bring their buildings up to code.
But the Kern County Planning and Natural Resources Department argued in almost every case that dispensaries could prove far less investment than they claimed. In some cases, the department reduced the provable amortization funds that supervisors could legally consider to thousands of dollars.
The Planning Department maintained the dispensaries had already been given enough time to earn back the money they had spent on their buildings, and the supervisors seemed to agree.
“We’re not here to determine whether or not we’re going to allow cannabis dispensaries, medical or otherwise, we’re here to talk about the amortization period,” Supervisor Zack Scrivner said at one point during the meeting.
Earlier in the meeting, he had said that the county had given dispensaries enough time for amortization.
“It doesn’t mean that all capitol investments have been recouped,” he said, referring to the amortization period, “just that we provided a reasonable period of time.”
Supervisors voted uniformly to deny the appeals.
Supervisor Leticia Perez, who is facing a trial on conflict of interest charges relating to her contacts with the marijuana industry, was absent from the meeting.
Many of the dispensaries at the meeting Monday were represented by local attorney Phil Ganong.
He said that closing down the legal dispensaries would only drive customers to the illegal dispensaries that have popped up since the county’s ban came into effect.
“You’re shutting down the good ones and not doing enough to shut down the bad ones,” he said.
After May 24, no dispensaries within the county will be legally allowed to sell marijuana products. However, state law allows delivery to places inside the county.
At past meetings, some applicants have said they may resort to litigation in order to stay open.