Shop owner: Sales catch fire as pot shops go up in smoke

Shop owner: Sales catch fire as pot shops go up in smoke »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The medical marijuana dispensaries are gone, and there's a mixed reaction from nearby businesses on what changes they've seen. The dispensaries were forced to shut down in most areas of Kern County in early July.

After hearing from one store owner who said it's been positive for her shop, Eyewitness News checked with other nearby businesses.

"I've seen growth not only in merchandise, but growth in customers, as well," Juanita Bradshaw said Tuesday. She owns Fashion Plus Size on North Chester Avenue. Two doors down there was a marijuana dispensary until voters passed Measure G.

Bradshaw said since that happened, she's had to find more places to put additional merchandise. But can she be sure the uptick in business is because the medical marijuana shop is gone?

"I don't know for a fact that that's it," Bradshaw said, "but I've certainly seen my business grow."

The new county rule bans storefront medical marijuana dispensaries, except in certain industrial zones. In those areas, any dispensaries must be a mile apart, and a mile from any school, daycare center, park or church.

At Apple Tree Health Foods on North Chester, owner Carl Neal is also pleased with changes he's seen after the ordinance went into effect.

"There are fewer people milling around," Neal told Eyewitness News. "I've had people comment, tell me that they're glad they are gone."

A few other store owners who didn't want to be identified said they see fewer groups of people loitering and fewer instances of obvious smoking of marijuana or what appeared to be people on the sidewalk or street selling or sharing marijuana. These store owners also said there are fewer parking and traffic problems, and less trash and litter.

But, other stores say the absence of the medical marijuana facilities has made no difference on their business, and some say they never had any problems with the dispensaries or their customers.

However at Apple Tree Health Foods, Neal said there were negative impacts.

"I remember one day, we actually had somebody under the influence of drugs fell and hit his head on the front door," Neal said. He's sure his customers were uncomfortable with the presence of the dispensaries. "They didn't like it," Neal said. "I'm sure some of them, although they didn't say it, were intimidated."

Bradshaw said the dispensary near her shop caused trouble for both herself and her customers. She had real problems with the first man who operated the facility.

"He would sit out in his truck, the back of his truck, in front of my store and cuss me," Bradshaw said. "Cuss my customers, and just cause havoc."

But several other store-owners in the area said they had no problems with dispensaries near them, and wondered if there were big differences in the way some were operated. One store owner said the dispensary near his business was well-run, the the managers made a clear effort to clean up any trash and prevent problems like loitering.

Eyewitness News tried to contact some of the operators who ran dispensaries in county areas before Measure G. Of the five we tried to reach, the two who responded said they think dispensaries actually brought in customers and business to nearby stores and shops.

But Bradshaw is convinced she's getting more business, and more customers now that the marijuana facility is gone.

"They feel more comfortable and confident in stopping here," Bradshaw said. "Now that (the dispensaries) are gone, it's very nice and it's very pleasant."