Holiday shoppers in Calexico in 2019 could be browsing cannabis products, with the sales tax revenue a gift that gives to the city all year long, if the city council lights up to proposed retail pot sales.
The vote was scheduled for the council’s Dec. 19 meeting that occurred after this newspaper’s deadline.
However, momentum appeared to be behind the proposal as it already passed on a first reading and the meeting agenda stated city staff proposed to waive the full reading of the two ordinances involved before the votes are taken.
The first reading passed on Dec. 5. A public hearing on cannabis sales was held Oct. 11.
The city is already permitting cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, testing and distribution in a cannabis overlay zone, a 350-acre industrial tract on the city’s west side. One such facility is already in the works after getting city approval.
The new proposal would allow additional cannabis businesses, specifically retail and shared-use manufacturing facilities.
“I don’t know if the cannabis ordinance will pass as we have two new council members but I’ll reach out to at least one of them, so that changes the dynamic,” said Council Member Bill Hodge, who also sits on the city Cannabis Industry Ad Hoc Sub-Committee.
Council members David Romero and Rosie Arreola-Fernandez were sworn in Dec. 10 after winning in the Nov. 6 election. They replace Maritza Hurtado and Armando Real, both of whom retired.
Hodge noted there would be 10 licenses to operate cultivation, lab testing and distribution facilities, 15 licenses would be available for shared-use facilities and five retail licenses, for a total of 30.
But applicants could have only two licenses each. Retail could include store front or non-storefront that delivers only. A shared-use facility is similar to a cosmetology salon where the owner leases space to another business.
“We took the conservative approach, allowing just two facilities per applicant,” said Hodge. “We cannot anticipate all the possible consequences that could result. And we didn’t want to overburden city government with monitoring commercial cannabis activity.”
He added the 15 shared-use facilities are aimed at small businesses who have the desire but lack the capital of larger firms.