Business owners react to county’s ban on medical marijuana enterprises 

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Kristin Gaspar and others who supported the ban on marijuana say they did not want to manage the unintended consequences of allowing more marijuana businesses to operate. 

But opponents said this will result in lots of unfortunate consequences for people who want to make medical marijuana more accessible.

After two years of hard work, Ren Bowden thought he was getting close to achieving his dream of opening a medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation facility on a property in Ramona. It’s been a huge investment.

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Most of the 2.8-acre plot on Olive Street would be used for growing marijuana so it could be sold in the dispensary, operated out of a building that Bowden remodeled.

But now, Bowden will have to shelve those plans because county supervisors have decided to make growing operations illegal in the county’s unincorporated areas.

Bowden still intends to open the dispensary. He’s one of just three people who got vested rights, that is, prior approval to open their dispensary business, but he said he’s had to jump through some very high hoops.

He’s had to put in a separate well, install his own expanded sprinkler system and upgrade a power transformer. At the county’s insistence, he also had to build a sidewalk, widen the street and put in a new power pole. That project alone — moving a single pole — came to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Bowden said he was all ready to open up a year ago, but that’s when the county issued a temporary moratorium. Bowden was told that the county wanted extra time to fine-tune it’s medical marijuana regulations.

He never imagined that the supervisors would return with a blanket ban on cannabis businesses. Bowden will have to buy his supply instead of growing it and worse, the county said he’ll have to shut everything down in five years.

Despite these new setbacks, Bowden said he’s going to open his dispensary in Ramona next month. 

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