Antioch’s first would-be cannabis dispensary passed its first hurdle this week.
The city’s planning commission on Wednesday approved One Plant’s proposal to set up a dispensary with delivery service at the former Goodwill store at 2701 W. 10th St. The building is in a northwest industrial park in one of two zones the city approved last fall for such operations.
The business wants to sell cannabis products inside a 2,500-square-foot sales area of the 17,000-square-foot warehouse. In addition to marijuana and products, One Plant proposes to sell vape pens, vape pen batteries and chargers, which are used to administer cannabis concentrates.
In his presentation to the commission, Chris Hester said the company operates a number of cannabis and non-cannabis businesses in the country, including one in El Sobrante. Although he did not mention One Plant’s plans for the rest of the warehouse, he hinted that it might run other businesses there later.
“There’s always been a stigma to the cannabis industry, so we try to alleviate that stigma by keeping our operational protocols in line with what the community wants,” Hester said. “We are usually not disturbing industrial business parks with our operations.”
An estimated 300 to 400 customers a day would enter the business through a lobby and present a valid identification card to a security guard before entering the sales area, he said.
One Plant worked with the Antioch Police Department to establish guidelines for security. The company will have two armed security guards on duty during business hours and one after hours, Hester said.
Antioch police Capt. Anthony Morefield said One Plant has included “every extra we asked for. … It meets every standard we set and it also meets with every standard that are set forth in the ordinance.”
The company plans to begin delivery operations using a single delivery vehicle, available during the same hours as the retail business, he said. While half of its revenue goes through ATM processing, armed guards pick up the rest of the cash, Hester said.
“It seems like a very positive thing,” Commissioner Kenny Turnage said. “It’s good to see we are having an experienced company coming in. It looks like it is everything we have been looking for.”
Commissioner Manny Soliz said he has qualms, although he approved of the location. He wrote a referendum last year to repeal the city’s ordinance allowing cannabis businesses in certain areas and said he’s still concerned about the business’ cash transactions.
Soliz pointed out that although Proposition 64 legalized cannabis in California, federal law has not, so there’s some issues with making deposits in traditional banking systems.
He also questioned the city’s lack of a city cannabis tax.
“I was looking to have some additional tax rate for this, but I am not so crazy to set the tax rate too high, then the consumers will just have to go back to the black market, so that’s not necessarily what we want either,” he said.
“What are the benefits to the city? I just want to make sure the city is actually going to benefit from this,” he added. “If we approve this tonight, it seems we are putting the cart before the horse.”
Community Development Director Forrest Ebbs replied that the city could enter into a development agreement with the business, resulting in more financial revenue for Antioch.
“Short of a citywide tax on cannabis, we are exploring options of development agreements,” he said. “There’s an element in our council that would like to see us become a very prominent player in this field. And maybe by giving us a competitive advantage over cities like Oakland — whom we hear all the time overtaxing the cannabis vendors — maybe there’s an opportunity here.”
Commissioners voted 5-2 to recommend the use permit, with Soliz and Janet Zacharatos dissenting.
One Plant now needs to convince the City Council on March 26 to do the same.
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