The City of Huntington Park has chosen three groups – by blind number call – who will be gifted the opportunity to cultivate and distribute marijuana in city limits. The three were chosen out of 31 groups that submitted applications.
Under a dispensary ordinance that was approved months ago, those who were tentatively approved will have to hammer out a business plan, allocate certain fees to the city and figure out an appropriate location. According to Wave Newspapers, none of the three groups listed had any experience in operating marijuana dispensaries, though one couple did say they were personally marijuana users.
This type of inexperience is not unheard of in California dispensary operations. Still, it’s worth noting that opening a new dispensary can be rife with challenges, not the least of which is assistance with legal licensing for such ventures. It’s imperative that any group seeking to launch a marijuana dispensary obtain legal guidance. Although California’s Compassionate Use Act does allow for medicinal marijuana, the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries are still strictly forbidden under federal law and in some cases, under local ordinances. That means improper permitting, licensing or operation of a facility could subject you to serious fines, forfeitures and even criminal prosecution.
Medical marijuana dispensary licensing, permitting and operation in California must be done according to marijuana laws that are complex, technical and evolving. In general, opening a marijuana dispensary in California requires:
- Classifying the business as a non-profit;
- Adhering to state and local protocols required of any new company;
- Forming and keeping positive relationships with state and local government officials, as well as law enforcement agencies.
Start-ups should also understand that opening a medical marijuana dispensary is likely to be costly if you want to do it legally. Estimates are generally between $30,000 and $500,000, depending on where you are opening and the scale of your operation. New dispensary operators need to factor in costs like:
- Application fees with the state/ local/ city/ county.
- Licensing/ permitting fees.
- Building/ renting the appropriate space.
- Purchasing the right equipment.
- Growing the marijuana (a labor of love – and lots of money);
- Consultations with legal and financial advisers.
Diving headfirst into dispensary operations without legal counsel is like driving with a blindfold. Even if you know the way home, you might not be able to see some of the major obstacles straight ahead.
There are in some cases companies that offer turn-key dispensary operations. They go through the entire application process, licensing requirements, rental/ mortgage agreements and then hand you the keys. You’ll pay even more for this than doing it yourself, but even then, you’ll still want to have an experienced marijuana lawyer to review all the relevant information to be sure nothing has been overlooked and your squared away from a legal standpoint.
In Huntington Park, applicants had to pay a $5,000 permit request fee – non-refundable – just to ask permission to sell or deliver marijuana in the city. When the city approved up to three marijuana shops in an ordinance last March, it was estimated those locations would pay about $750,000 yearly to the city in fees.
The ordinance requires facilities to be away from churches, homes, schools and parks. Dispensaries will also be required to have 24-hour security on site plus camera surveillance and professionally-monitored alarms. There is also to be no on-site monetary purchases. That raises some trouble, as most banks still won’t allow marijuana dispensaries to open accounts.
Huntington Park is pivoting from its earlier stance on medical marijuana, which resulted in shuttering numerous locations throughout the city.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Huntington Park picks three potential pot dispensers, May 20, 2016, By Arnold Adler, WaveNewspapers.com
More Blog Entries:
One California Sheriff Warns Marijuana Users About Pesticide Dangers, June 3, 2016, Huntington Park Marijuana Lawyer Blog