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12 apply to open pot dispensaries in Grover Beach — but it can allow only 2

A flower grows on a marijuana plant at Megan's Organic Market's marijuana farm in Los Osos.
A flower grows on a marijuana plant at Megan's Organic Market's marijuana farm in Los Osos. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

The competition to open a medical marijuana dispensary in the newly cannabis-friendly Grover Beach is heating up — think Hunger Games, but the end prize is the chance to become one of the first brick-and-mortar dispensaries in San Luis Obispo County.

Twelve groups have applied for pre-permits to open a dispensary, following the city’s decision this year to begin allowing (and taxing) medical marijuana businesses.

Only two will eventually be allowed to open, however, meaning city staff now have the job of rating the field of interested parties, with the intention of narrowing it to two preferred candidates.

“In general, I can say we’ve been impressed by the caliber of applications,” City Manager Matt Bronson said.

After a long road to deliberation, the City Council voted in May to allow commercial medical marijuana businesses — dispensaries, nurseries, manufacturing facilities and laboratory testing centers — to open in designated industrial areas throughout town.

The decision made the city the first to locally embrace the potentially lucrative medical marijuana industry, and it could set up Grover Beach as a center for cannabis industry in the county.

The deadline to apply for the dispensary pre-permit was July 10. Applications included a one-time fee of $8,100.

Bronson noted that the backgrounds of the 12 applicants varied, with some hailing locally and others from out of town.

He said the applications will be ranked over the next month based on their business plans, owner and manager experience and how well the proposed businesses would fit in with the surrounding neighborhood.

The City Council will likely review the rankings Sept. 5. From there, the top two will go through the conditional permitting process; final approval rests with the City Council.

The city has also received a separate application to open a manufacturing facility that will go before the city’s governing bodies this fall, Bronson said.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

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