Staring straight down a Dec. 1 deadline to close his business, Jess Brewer was in full “scramble mode” Wednesday.
Along with the other cannabis collective operators in Redding, Brewer was wondering what was going to happen to his business, Trusted Friends, and the patients who rely on it.
“I’m freaked out. I’m going to lose my house,” Brewer said. “They put us out of business before Christmas, oh ho-ho!”
The Redding City Council voted Tuesday night to pass an urgency ordinance that requires marijuana collectives serving more than 10 patients to close by Dec. 1.
Collective operators said Wednesday they were going to change the way they operate, while others predicted they would have to close down.
Brewer said even though he will no longer be operating a nonprofit collective, he has to pay rent for December and January. That will cost him $5,000, he said.
Brewer sells his cannabis products on consignment, so whatever product he has left by December he will return to his suppliers. He said he is concerned for his two employees, who will be laid off and likely have to receive unemployment benefits.
He predicted a painful economic impact from the closures ranging from the loss of sales tax revenue, to laid off employees to a reduction in spending at hardware and home stores.
Not all collectives wanted to divulge the hits they’ll take from the forced closures. But Brewer said he has paid about $3,000 a month in sales taxes since opening in December 2008.
Nature’s Nexus collective on Hartnell Avenue has 13 employees, five of them full time, said CEO Jeanette Ernst. The dispensary’s board of directors was to meet Wednesday night to discuss what to do in the wake of the council’s action.
Ernst said they would talk about three options: to seek an injunction against the city to prevent it from enforcing the law, file a lawsuit against the city and try to get a referendum on the ballot to overturn the city’s ordinance.
Nature’s Nexus sells dry marijuana, as well as such products as tablets, crackers, tinctures and ointments. Patients need different medications, depending on their ailments, Ernst said.
“My big concern is finding a way to get our members the medicine they need,” Ernst said.
Bill Nagel, the city’s interim development services director, said most collective operators already know about the council’s action and are aware of the Dec. 1 deadline. But his department is drafting a letter to send to the 16 dispensary operators informing them about their obligations under the new law.
Redding contractor Bobby Martin who owns the space formally occupied by the Hampton Collective in Mission Square on Bechelli Lane said he evicted the collective at the end of October after he received a letter from the federal government threatening action against landlords who rented to collectives.
“I am not even sure we had to evict them, but when we got the letter that told us they would start coming after us, we didn’t want to take any chances,” Martin said.
The Hampton Collective had a month-to-month rental agreement with Martin.
Martin doesn’t think any landlord who rents to a collective will want to take the risk.
“We tried to help them ( pot collectives ), and we got some rent out of it, so they helped us,” Martin said. “Unfortunately, the city changed its mind . . . and now everybody has spent a ton of money for nothing.”
Dorothy Smith, who owns the building housing Trusted Friends on Pine Street, said Brewer has been a good tenant, making about $7,000 in improvements to the building since he moved in.
Considering the state of the economy, Smith doubts she will be able to get another tenant to pay the $2,500 a month Brewer did.
Smith also owns the building formerly occupied by Bedrooms Direct, at the corner of Pine and Placer streets. When Bedrooms Direct closed down and moved out after 30 years it took her six months to find a tenant that would agree to a five-year lease, Smith said.
Like Brewer, Smith predicted she wouldn’t be the only person to lose money when the collectives close.
“It will hurt a lot of people,” Smith said. “I know that there will be an impact on everybody that leases to these people.”
Charree Richey, vice president of the Planet Herb Medical Marijuana Collective on Hilltop Drive, said the all-volunteer business won’t close Dec. 1. Planet Herb will work to get its 4,800 patients help finding the medicine they need.
Richey and Ernst said they received many calls from patients Wednesday wondering if they will be able to continue to receive medicine.
“I’ve spent the majority of my day on the phone calming down my patients. They’re scared,” Ernst said.
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2011 Record Searchlight
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Website: Redding Record Searchlight: Local Redding, California News Delivered Throughout the Day.