Lake Elsinore City Council approves new dispensary owned by casino owner

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Lake Elsinore City Council at its Dec. 10 meeting approved an application from one of the owners of the Lake Elsinore Casino for a development agreement and a conditional use permit to open a new cannabis facility in the city.

The planning commission unanimously approved the application from Ted Kingston at a meeting Dec. 3, sending it to the city council for a final vote.

The proposed 12,411-square-foot facility is planned to include about 6,000 square feet for cultivation, almost 4,000 square feet for storage, an approximately 1,400-square-foot dispensary, a 411-square-foot manufacturing area, 370 square feet for distribution and 241 square feet of office space, Assistant Community Development Director Justin Kirk told the council, reading from a staff report. The facility will be located at a building on Hunco Way west of Collier Avenue in an industrial park.

The city approved 10 licenses for cannabis businesses about a year ago, according to Kirk. So far, only one dispensary – The Syndicate Lake Elsinore – has actually opened within the city. Another cultivation-only facility has also received a certificate of occupancy, while six businesses are still in the construction phase, one recently had its development plan approved and another is still in the process of trying to get approved, Kirk said. An additional four cannabis businesses have applied for licenses.

A handful of community members spoke at the meeting in support of approving the new dispensary, including Lake Elsinore Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Kim Cousins.

“We are supportive of the move, especially with Mr. Kingston coming forward, who I consider to be quite a pillar of the community,” Cousins said. Ted Kingston co-owns the Lake Elsinore Casino with his cousin Joseph Kingston. “That’s the face we want on the cannabis industry, is a professional organization and a professional that is focused on bringing this into the 20th century.”

The Lake Elsinore Casino is included in the portfolio of the Kingston Group, also known as the Davis County Cooperative Society, a Utah-based polygamous sect, The Salt Lake Tribune reported in April.

In a letter to The Salt Lake Tribune from July 26, Ted Kingston’s attorney wrote that his client “is not, and has never been, involved in polygamy.”

Ted and Joseph Kingston have been embroiled in a decadeslong dispute with the California Bureau of Gambling Control, which is seeking to deny their casino a regular gambling license on the grounds that the pair have not provided necessary financial and ownership history information. The casino has been operating on a series of temporary licenses since 1999.

Council voted unanimously to approve Ted Kingston’s new dispensary.

Will Fritz can be reached by email at wfritz@reedermedia.com.

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