Most police detectives are used to slapping handcuffs on people who sell marijuana, but the city of Grover Beach is looking for a cop willing to work alongside them instead.
The Grover Beach Police Department is looking to hire a part-time detective to help roll out the city's medical marijuana business ordinances.
Those ordinances, passed by the Grover Beach City Council May 15, allow a number of businesses to operate in specific sections of the city. Limited cultivation, production, and even retail medical pot dispensaries are all allowed. The part-time detective will be responsible for reviewing the detailed applications for permits and licenses, and also conducting background investigations on owners and employees for those businesses, according to Grover Beach Police Chief John Peters.
"They are basically going to be responsible for assisting the cannabis industry with staying in compliance with the city's ordinances and the state's laws," Peters told New Times. "We believe that partnering with them up front will be successful both for the businesses that come to Grover Beach as well as the community of Grover Beach."
The job will extend beyond the permitting phase, Peters added. The detective will continue working with medical marijuana businesses in the city, including assisting with code compliance issues, on-site inspections, and semi-annual audits.
As the department looks for the right person to be the city's new pot-cop, the city is also gearing up to take applications for medical marijuana businesses, including brick-and-mortar retail stores.
The City Council voted 4-0 June 12, with Councilmember Debbie Peterson abstaining, to create a three-phase pre-approval process for businesses looking to open dispensaries in the city. The pre-approval process begins with a review of the prospective businesses' application for permits and background checks on all owners and employees. If the applications pass muster, they move on to a selection committee that will rank the would-be dispensary applicants giving them a score. Only applications that score at least 80 out of 100 total points will be passed on the City Council, who can vote to approve up to two of them.
"The purpose of the dispensary pre-application process is to review the overall strength of the applicants, and increase the probability of having responsible and successful operators," said Bruce Buckingham, Grover beach's Community Development director.
That pre-approval process won't guarantee a dispensary a permit to operate. Once they make it out of the pre-approval process, applicants will still have to go through the normal business licensing and approval process with the city.
"This is a unique process," Buckingham said. "This is the only time I can think of in doing this for a long time where the council has a process in which they're able to vet somebody before they're even able to submit an application."
As part of the pre-approval process, would-be dispensary owners would have to submit detailed documentation about how their businesses would run, prompting concern from Mayor John Shoals that the city might be overstepping its bounds. But Councilmember Miriam Shah indicated that the additional information might help ease fears about the new industry coming into the city.
"I know it's probably onerous as a business owner, but I think at this point, it's so new for us that having more information would make me more comfortable," Shah said.
Buckingham said the city will begin taking applications June 14, and suggested that applications for dispensary permits be submitted no later than July 17.