Appeal rejected over pot dispensary license in Marysville
April 6, 2017
The Marysville City Council this week unanimously denied the Gold Country Growers Inc. appeal of bias in the awarding of medical marijuana dispensary licenses.
Heather Burke, an attorney representing Gold Country Growers, alleged at Tuesday's City Council meeting that nonlocal groups had a "competitive advantage" during the application process.
"The inability to give any leeway to the locals is problematic because the locals have not had the chance to have a dispensary in the past, so we don't have the same experience as outsiders do," said Burke, a Nevada City attorney.
Burke submitted an amended application, which the council did not accept because licenses have been issued based on the initial application process, which began in 2016.
"You can't change the rules halfway through the game," City Attorney Brant Bordsen said. "I believe an amended appeal is untimely."
Burke requested the council grant a third license to her client based on the city code addressing how licenses may be regulated.
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"I would indeed suggest by the language of the city code that the city council does have the ability to grant a third license tonight," she said.
According to the city code, only two licenses may be granted for medical marijuana dispensaries.
Bordsen said the city code section referenced by Burke is for the use of the Planning Commission and City Council to regulate business functions such as hours of operation and requiring security cameras.
"We had three finalists," he said. "We went through a competitive process and they scored third."
After the council denied the submission of an amended application, they addressed the bias concerns raised in Gold Country Growers' appeal.
"Here is the frustrating part: we gave your client an extension," said Mayor Ricky Samayoa. "We want to hear evidence based on your initial points."
The council held a special meeting last month to address the appeal, however Gold Country Growers asked for an extension, which the council granted.
"They are the only applicants where all three principals live in Yuba County," Burke said.
Burke said preference had been given to applicants who lived outside of Yuba County. The council found no evidence of bias because a scoring matrix had been used to evaluate the candidates. Gold Country Growers scored higher than their competition in the local aspect of the matrix.
"So we did treat you fairly in that case," Samayoa said.
Burke said her client "looks forward" to reapplying should the state not approve the other applicant's location.
"However, we do respect the process and commend the city for undertaking the historic task of permitting a cannabis dispensary for the first time in Yuba County's history," Burke said in an email.
Patrick Groves is a reporter for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat. Contact him at 530-749-4796.