Woodlake gathers feel for commercial marijuana
The City’s low staffing levels makes it easier to vet cannabis businesses coming into town
By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
WOODLAKE – Cities throughout Tulare County, including the County, have pushed against the wave of commercial cannabis in California set to begin as early as next month. Woodlake is one of only two cities to welcome it with open arms. One reason is because of their size.
Already they have six cannabis related businesses, two dispensaries and four cultivators, working their way through the licensing and permitting process. Where other cities are concerned over the potential rise of crime and homelessness – something that has been a supposed symptom in cities that have allowed it – Woodlake is comfortable letting businesses open up shop.
Woodlake community development director Jason Waters said the City realized early on that marijuana use stayed roughly the same in states where it was legalized. If that trend holds true then Woodlake can reasonably expect the presence of commercial cannabis does not create an increased consumption of cannabis.
“Not having dispensaries was not going to reduce access…so why not generate revenue and mitigate negative impacts or use the money for good things in the city,” Waters said.
More importantly the City is willing to forego renewing permits or licenses if businesses fail to follow specific requirements. As well, Waters said that the City is prepared to adjust ordinances to address any unforeseen requirement issues. But they do not anticipate having to do that.
Because of the size of Woodlake’s city staff most businesses have dealt directly with decision makers at City Hall. Likewise City decision makers have dealt with owners of cannabis businesses. Waters said that dealing with them directly gives staff a sense of confidence that larger cities might not have the advantage of. As well, the city staff has a better sense of what the community feels because there are only around 8,000 people who live there and they all have to go through City Hall at some point in the month.
“Yeah, City Hall is like a kind of hub for a lot of things…people have to come pay their water bills here and that’s where they see our notices…our Facebook account is visited rather frequently,” Waters added.
Also as a part of the process for regulatory permits dispensary owners were required to go through an interview with city staff. As of November, cannabis dispensary formerly titled CCW LLC now titled Valley Pure and Green Bean Pharm, were issued their regulatory permits, which allows them to operate in the city, by the City Council. During last week’s City Council meeting cultivators Rupp Cannabis and Green Smart were issued their Negative Declarations which helped them meet environmental requirements for the necessary conditional use permits. Green Smart also received their regulatory permit during the same meeting.
As of now all six businesses appear to be on track to acquiring regulatory permits as well as their CUPs, but Waters added that there are plenty of steps to go. He said that cultivators still need to build their facilities in the industrialized zones they are applying for which comes with a host of building and code permits. In addition they still have to gather their license by the State.