Marijuana is back on the market in Kern County, at least the legal kind.
Since a ban by the Board of Supervisors came into full effect in May, all legal sales of the drug were extinguished everywhere in Kern County.
But one dispensary in California City quietly opened last Friday, becoming the sole legal storefront in the county.
California City Supply, operated by two local business owners, aims to be a place for much of eastern Kern County to go for both recreational and medical marijuana.
Bakersfield residents who travel to Los Angeles to purchase marijuana may also take advantage of the closer location.
And in a couple weeks, the owners hope to start delivering the product into Bakersfield, using discreet vehicles and an online ordering system.
“I was kind of excited to see it become an outlet for people to come in and do it the legal way, and not be out buying it on the street,” owner Rick Jones said of the store’s opening. “It’s a different business. I think the people wanted it, and I think it was done right and done legal.”
Although both the Bakersfield City Council and the Kern County Board of Supervisors voted to ban sales of marijuana, California City and Arvin have chosen to allow sales within city limits.
The California City City Council dispensed 10 permits for marijuana vendors earlier this year. Two of those permits allowed for a storefront that customers can enter and browse products in person. The other eight permits only allow delivery operations.
California City Supply appears to be the first storefront to take advantage of its permit.
“It’s nice that there is a new business that opened up locally for us,” California City Mayor Chuck McGuire said. “The number-one thing is it’s more revenue now too that will come into the city.”
He noted that while he did not support recreational use of marijuana, he has been convinced of the drug’s medical benefits and wanted an outlet for patients within the city.
"It can be done locally," he said. "That’s the biggest thing for me."
So far, Amanda Adolf, the other owner of California City Supply, said several cancer patients had already stopped by the new business.
Prior to her store opening, she said those patients needed to travel into Los Angeles to buy the product.
“So at least it’s a benefit to them,” she said.
Jones said his father died of cancer and potentially could have used marijuana when he was going through the disease.
Neither Adolf nor Jones smoke marijuana, they said. But both claim to have experience dealing with state regulations.
Jones works as a contractor and Adolf owns a gun and security store in California City.
“We’re going to play by the rules because we own other companies,” Jones said.
Over the next several weeks, California City Supply plans to work out the kinks in its operation before hosting a grand opening.
It currently employs two security guards and two “budtenders,” who tell potential customers about the product. When it gets up to full speed, Jones said, the company hopes to hire between 10 to 15 people.
While business has been up and down for the first few days, the two owners believe that it will pick up once word spreads.
“We only can see how it goes,” Jones said. “Maybe it turns out to be a bad idea. I don’t see that now, but nobody ever knows until time goes by and we see how it all works out.”