CALEXICO — The Calexico City Council on Nov. 20 quietly gave final approval to raising from seven to 12 the number of retail commercial cannabis permits available in the city, despite not knowing if the state will allow that many.
The measure will take effect 30 days from the vote.
The measure, one of two cannabis-related issues voted on, was approved unanimously as part of the consent agenda in which multiple items are passed in one vote with no discussion.
The other cannabis item approved was removing industrial hemp from the definition of cannabis. It was also part of the consent agenda.
Raising the number of retail cannabis permits was preliminarily approved Nov. 6 following a public hearing and a 3-1 council vote. Council Member Lewis Pacheco opposed the measure and Council Member Morris Reisen was absent.
Along with the seven current retail permits, the five additional retail permits can be used for storefronts, non-storefronts (delivery services) or microbusinesses.
Much of the prior council discussion on increasing retail permits involved whether it made sense to approve raising their number if the state still had not issued its “over-concentration numbers.”
At the Nov. 6 council meeting City Attorney Carlos Campos explained that is the number of retail permits a city could have based on its population. A current example being used is the state would allow one retail permit for every 10,000 residents.
Pacheco said he believed that Calexico, with around 40,000 residents, would only be allowed four retail permits and, as such, asked what the point would be in approving more permits before the state rendered its decision.
The city has awarded the first seven retail permits to perspective operators. However, none of those projects have even opened and one, issued to Movocan, was recently revoked by the city Planning Commission for alleged inactivity.
The vote on industrial hemp was intended to bring city ordinances in line with the federal 2018 Farm Bill, which decriminalized industrial hemp and allowed it to be grown as any other agricultural commodity.
This story is featured in the Nov 28, 2019 e-Edition.