CALIFORNIA CITY — The City Council narrowly agreed to expand the num­ber of delivery-only mar­i­juana retail outlets in the city from two to 10, an ordinance that will go into effect in the new year.

On Dec. 11, the first coun­cil meeting with newly elect­ed Mayor Chuck Mc­Guire and two new council­members, the council voted 3-2 to allow the additional de­liv­ery-only outlets. Coun­cil ­­members Donald Par­ris and Gene Stump dis­sented, after proposing the mat­ter be tabled until the ap­plication process for the two such outlets already approved is underway and the council can see if the response warrants al­low­ing additional outlets.

During the same meet­ing, the council approved a revised application pro­cess for all commercial mar­i­juana businesses in Cal­if­ornia City, as well as the new process for retail out­lets. That was also passed on a 3-2 vote, with Parris and Councilman Nick Les­sen­evitch dissenting.

In September, the coun­cil approved changes to the city’s two-year-old com­mercial marijuana code to eliminate the restriction to strictly medical marijuana businesses — allowing for recreational, or adult use, marijuana businesses as well — and allowing for two storefront retail out­lets and two delivery-only retail businesses.

This change created a need to revise the ap­pli­cation process for grant­ing permits to com­mer­cial cultivation, man­u­fac­turing, distribution and testing businesses, as well as to establish a procedure for retail outlets.

The approved processes were streamlined some­what, with the city man­ag­er making the final award for all businesses except re­tail, and the City Council main­taining final approval of permits for both types of retail outlets, owing to the competitive nature of the limited number of retail permits.

Applicants for these bus­inesses will have a 60-day period in which to submit their applications, which will then be vetted and ranked by city staff. The high­est-ranked applicants will make presentations be­fore the City Council, which will have the final say as to which ones will be permitted.

This is the same process that was originally used by the city in awarding all commercial marijuana per­mits, before the council lift­ed the limit on the number of permits it would award.

“It eliminated the need for the competitive process,” City Attorney Christian Bettenhausen said.

Because the number of permits on retail outlets is capped, award of those is still a competitive process.

“It is limited, so it should be whoever gets it is the most qualified,” Bet­ten­hausen said.

The council is not re­quired to award any per­mits if they do not deem any of the applications to be sufficiently qualified, City Manager Robert Stock­well said.

”This is a business that can open very quickly with­out the problems of elec­tric­al power” that have plagued cultivation and other operations at­tempt­ing to establish in Cal City, he said. “There is a de­mand. There are peop­le who are interested in mo­ving forward on these things.”

Stump wanted as­sur­ances, before any notice of opening the application pro­cess was made, that the handful of businesses who had earlier applied for retail permits under ear­lier rules had their fees refunded so they could start anew with any others at the same time.

“We need to all start at the same gate with a level playing field for all,” he said.

Lessenevitch, taking his first meeting as a coun­cil member, felt the processes were not clear enough, and felt trying to start the retail outlet application process over the holidays would not allow enough time for interested applicants to adequately prepare.

“To be honest with you, I’m a little bit bewildered by all this tonight,” he said.

Supporters, however, urged the council to pro­ceed, as the longer it takes to get these outlets per­mit­ted, the longer it will be be­fore the city may begin col­lecting tax revenues from them.

The decision to increase the number of delivery-only outlets was intended to capture what staff believes could be a large market for such services, and claim the city’s 6% tax and state 1% tax on each sale made by these businesses.

“For every transaction that goes on, we will receive 7%,” Stockwell said.

The focus on delivery-only businesses is not to address a market within the city itself, but to serve other communities as Cal City is the only one in the region right now to allow such activity, he said.

“It’s critical for us to recognize it opens one more el­ement of the cannabis in­dus­try,” he said, and will help the city meet its goal of establishing a new rev­en­ue stream in order to end its reliance on voter-ap­proved special parcel taxes.

Opponents to the increase, including Parris, felt the city has allowed plenty of the marijuana businesses as is.

To share your opinion on this article or any other article, write a letter to the editor and email it to editor@avpress.com or mail it to Letters to Editor, PO Box 4050, Palmdale CA 93590-4050.

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(1) comment

Jimzan

According to "Federal" law "Mar­i­juana" is still "illegal". Seems Cal-City is in trouble (financially) and is taking desperate measures to increase their revenue. It would be a shame that a person invests their hard earned money into a business that can be taken away at the drop of a hat (asset forfeiture) (google it). The Federal government made more last year (2.4 billion asset forfeitures), than the criminals did (2.2 billion).

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