Santa Barbara City’s dithering approach to retail marijuana outlets is slowly chugging along, with applications for licenses due to close at the end of this month (March 2018).
But it won’t be until fall, or even sometime in 2019, that the first retail outlets will open their doors! So, until then, “weedsters” will have to travel two hours down Highway 101 to their nearest Los Angeles outlets.
The council’s decision that doorstep cannabis delivery services must be legally linked to retail outlets has further complicated the issue because, at present, there are no legal dispensaries in Santa Barbara City.
Further clouding the issue is that distributors, growers and sellers who had previously operated legally under the medical-marijuana laws, now are compelled to apply for temporary licenses. This has resulted in a situation that there were fewer pot operators when recreational use became legal on 1 January 2018 than on the last day of 2017.
License applications cost a hefty $5,600.
To date, 35 applications have been received, with the majority of industry players hailing from outside state borders. These include areas such as Denver, Michigan, San Diego and Seattle. Their applications will be reviewed by city staff and licenses will apparently be awarded on a merit basis.
Apart from the three retail outlets approved by the city council, it has also been agreed to allow an unlimited number of wholesale operations, as well as granting permission for residents to grow one outdoor and five indoor cannabis plants.
Go-slow costing the city dearly
In the meantime, the city’s go-slow approach to street corner pot shops is costing dearly in terms of lost tax revenue and real estate rental income. At the moment downtown Santa Barbara City has a number of vacant retail storefronts which pot retail outlets could help fill, points out Mayor Cathy Murillo.
Santa Barbara County Republican leaders have welcomed the tax revenue that will be generated by the legalized cannabis industry. This has come at a time when the state is becoming increasingly opposed to gas and oil drilling. Tax revenue from the sale of cannabis is expected to earn the state about $1 billion during the first 12 months.
What’s happening elsewhere in Santa Barbara County?
The sudden demand for real estate has seen the transformation of previously abandoned storefronts and warehouses into thriving retail hubs and has helped fuel substantial increases in rental costs in the area.
The pot industry has changed the face of Carpinteria Valley from a thriving cut-flower industry into the marijuana cultivation heart of the county. Here too, formerly dilapidated buildings have been transformed into greenhouses, some as massive as 150,000 square feet.
If you’re a “weedster” you don’t want to live in Santa Maria! The city council has slapped a ban on any forms of legalized marijuana sales, distribution of cultivation within city limits.
There are still optimists that Santa Barbara City will see its first cannabis retail dispensaries opening for business by May, but skeptics remain firm in the belief that this will not happen until 2019.
However, one thing is certain. Cannabis spells “ching” and there will be plenty more money in the Santa Barbara City coffers once retail dispensaries open their doors to an eager public.