Riverside County supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved licenses for the first legal cannabis retail outlet in Winchester.

Following a public hearing, CPR-Winchester was granted authorization to establish a dispensary at 28384 Winchester Road, near Taylor Street, just north of Diamond Valley Lake.

The entire facility will occupy a third of an acre, parking lot included, with sales and storage of products in an existing 900-square-foot log cabin-style building, according to the county Transportation & Land Management Agency.

The outlet will provide on-site marijuana distribution, as well as a mobile delivery service, available seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., TLMA said.

Officials said there will be 24-hour armed security at the location.

Only one complaint was lodged during the board hearing, by James Deasuilera, who said he was concerned the dispensary lacked appropriate space to stock cannabis products, meaning some “transactions will be occurring outside.”

However, attorneys representing the owners said the space was adequate and assured the board all business will be conducted indoors.

Under the 10-year conditional use permit and development agreement, CPR-Winchester will be required to make a first-year public benefits payment to the county totaling $14,400. An ongoing annual payment of $57,600 will also be owed, increased 3% every year.

The payments are intended to offset the costs to the county of providing additional law enforcement, street maintenance and other services at the location.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved the proposal last March 24 and forwarded it to the board for final authorization.

The board has previously signed off on 22 dispensaries and manufacturing facilities in the unincorporated communities of Bermuda Dunes, Corona, East Hemet, Green Acres, Highgrove, Lakeland Village, Mead Valley, Temescal Valley and Thousand Palms.

Supervisor Kevin Jeffries vented frustration that out of all the approvals to date, only one facility was up and running, with the others on hold or having already ceased operations.

“We need to stop permitting facilities that aren’t going to open,” Jeffries said. “They’re blocking out other competition or future projects that might actually be built. We’ve got a problem here.”

Jeffries proposed that the county implement a time limit dictating the period during which applicants must initiate construction or open their cannabis outlets.

“We have bad actors out there who don’t intend to open, or have figured out they can’t make it happen, but yet they have this entitlement (under the conditional use permits),” he said.

TLMA staff said they would explore the possibility of establishing guidelines stipulating time constraints for cannabis projects.

Earlier this month, supervisors debated whether to grant permits for what would have been the first regulated outdoor commercial grow in an unincorporated part of the county, specifically De Luz. The proposal was rejected following a nearly three-hour hearing, during which virtually all the 50-plus speakers denounced the concept for being too close to residences and recreational sites bordering Temecula.

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.

To date, the board has approved only indoor marijuana manufacturing and distribution outlets in unincorporated communities.

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