Marijuana business operations approved in unincorporated Riverside County

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A new plan approved by the Board of Supervisors will allow marijuana businesses to operate in unincorporated Riverside County.

A ban on marijuana dispensaries and grow operations in the unincorporated area of Riverside County has been lifted.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to allow a limited number of dispensaries and grows.

"I think it would be good," Dawn Doxie said. "I mean it's already around here anyway, might as well."

Doxie lives in Lakeland Village, an unincorporated area adjacent to Lake Elsinore.

Lakeland Village could see a return of cannabis shops that were forced to close because they were in violation of the county's old ordinance.

"I don't really have a problem with it, as long as it is kept away from the children," Dwayne Gorden said. "That's my biggest concern. I don't really have a problem with it."

While marijuana advocates say the board took a step in the right direction, they say the ordinance and regulations are still too restrictive.

Gem Montes with Inland Empire NORML said dispensary operators would not only need to obtain a state permit, they would also have to apply for a developmental agreement with the county.

The county would have to individually approve each one. Montes said the businesses would also be subject to rezoning if it falls into any area where cannabis development is restricted.

"Any progress is good, however, I think the convoluted process that they are going to execute in issuing permits is going to act as a deterrent," Montes said.

The passage of Proposition 64 in 2016 legalized the adult recreational use of marijuana in California, but the new law allowed cities and counties to regulate.

Supervisor John Tavaglione voted against the new ordinance citing concerns he had.

He says Colorado, another state that legalized cannabis, is dealing with problems.

But Montes says many of those issues have arose out of illegal cannabis businesses.

"You have to really look at the information. They have raised a lot of money in Colorado," Montes said. "They have very, very few problems when it is related to legal cannabis businesses. It's the illegal cannabis businesses that causes the riff-raft."

Under the new regulation, the county will allow no more than 19 marijuana dispensaries and up to 50 grow operations in 2019.
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