Adult use sales requires both city and state permits

August 3, 2018

NEEDLES — August 10 is the official date that the marijuana dispensaries and cultivation businesses in the city of Needles can start selling to the California adult-use market.

“After the second public hearing of the adult-use ordinance, when the council approved it, that triggered a 30 day period for the city to get all the paperwork together,” said Rick Daniels, city manager. “It is my belief that during that time the cannabis industry has been applying for their state permit. For them to be able to sell to the adult-use market they not only need the local permits but the state as well and the state permit takes about two months to be approved. So it’ll be a little while until they can start selling.”

On June 26 the city council approved the first reading of Ordinance 606-AC and on July 10 they approved the second reading of the ordinance.

“At first I was against allowing adult-use but what turned me was when the growers said that they were having trouble selling to the medical marijuana market because it is a dwindling market,” said Councilor Tom Darcy. “They came up and told us that there is no difference between a marijuana plant that is being used for medical or adult-use purposes.”

“What seemed to impact the council to vote like they did was that the voters had already spoken on the issue when Proposition 64 passed,” said Daniels. “Statewide Prop. 64 was passed with a 57 percent vote of approval and in Needles the same Prop. 64 passed with a 61 percent vote of approval.”

“It’s going to be positive for the city and the cultivators,” said Anthony Gonzales of C.A.A Cultivation. “It’s going to open more doors for us, the cultivators, because we will be able to sell to both the medical and the adult-use cannabis market.”

It is no secret that the cultivators and dispensaries can bring a lot of money to the city which in turn can be used to upgrade multiple things.

“We have a 10 percent surcharge on what they sell which goes straight into our general fund budget,” said Darcy. “We can use this money to fix the streets that haven’t been fixed since 1997-98; we can fix our sewer system and our water system. As far as I’m concerned the city dies without the marijuana industry.”

“Rough numbers show that a cannabis business of whatever type can gross about $200 to $250 per square foot,” said Daniels. “Deducting operating expenses they’ll still generate about $10 to $20 per square foot. That number comes to roughly $6 million to $10 million in our general fund if all permitted facilities come online and if they all sell at the market value.”

“I think the city is going to get more tax dollars not just from the cultivations but from the dispensaries as well,” said Gonzales. “There’s a lot of people who come down here just for the weekend and there are a lot of people who travel on the I-40 that will want to use adult-use cannabis.”

Daniels stated that the environmental impacts such as noise, dust, smell and others don’t change between medical and adult-use since it’s the same process.

“In order to change the conditional use permit (CUP) for each cultivator and dispensary we would have to have two hearings in the planning commission and city council which would be 112 hearings,” said Daniels. “But instead of going through that long process the city attorney is finding a way that would make it possible for the city manager to approve any insignificant change in the CUP. Typically an insignificant change would be trees, landscape plans, paint colors and things of that nature.

“With the environmental impacts of producing medical or adult-use cannabis being the same we believe that it could be classified as an insignificant change,” Daniels continued. “When the planning commission and city council look it over and if they approve it, that’ll give us the opportunity to look at each CUP and if needed have the cultivator come up to the current standards that the city council has set.”

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