Council Selects Five Dispensaries for Initial Approval

While each of the four councilmembers, with Rochelle Swanson recusing herself, lamented how difficult a decision this was, the voting itself went remarkably smoothly and was almost anti-climactic.  Almost.

The council chose five cannabis dispensary locations: one in the downtown – F Street Dispensary; two on Olive Drive – Greenbar and Kind Farma; and two on 2nd Street, California Grown and Davis Cannabis Collective.  The two on 2nd Street got four votes and the other three got three.

The only others to receive votes were the Good People Farms (2) and River City Phoenix (1).

Councilmember Will Arnold explained, “We have too many great applicants. We have more great applicants than five.  Meaning, we will deny some great applications tonight.  That is probably cold comfort to anyone who ends up on the outside looking in.”

He said, “I urge those who are not selected tonight, to the extent feasible, to stay in the game.

“I’m very pleased to have reached this point in the discussion.  I knew two years ago when I was elected, we had a blanket ban on retail or any commercial cannabis operations here in the community,” he said.  “I knew all along today was going to be the toughest of these meetings… Now finally we have to choose among some very good applicants.”

Councilmember Lucas Frerichs pointed out that 79 percent of the community approved Measure C which allows the city to tax cannabis sales and Prop. 64 was approved by 70 percent of the vote.

He said, “Those are examples where this community has a strong record of support for legalization of cannabis.”

He too urged those folks who were not selected to consider that the 18-month process will go quickly and they will probably expand the number of licenses beyond five at that time.

Mayor Pro Tem Brett Lee added, “The quality of the applicants has been quite strong – as a result we’ve expanded from four to five.  Yeah, there will be quality applicants that unfortunately will not get a permit tonight.  The quality has not gone unnoticed.”

For him a big thing was geographic location and “a good geographic dispersion.”  He said, “The application was the lion’s share of what influenced my opinions.”

Mayor Robb Davis would add, “When we move from prohibition to allowable use, we have a community that, whatever their stance on cannabis is, has some anxiety.  For me, getting it right, right out of the gate, is most important.”

He said, “We wanted to make sure we were bringing the community along with us.  I can say with a lot of assurance, I think a lot of people are ready.

“When I think of my own life and what I was taught about cannabis and sort of the fear that marijuana instilled in me at a very early age, to even be sitting here, considering approving it, from a city is quite a stretch,” he said.  “We have to bring the entire community to that point.”

They then took a straw poll and were willing to accept the results after the first round.  The ordinance will come back at the next meeting on consent for the council to approve the second hearing.

In the meantime, those selected applicants will begin moving forward, while those who were not selected will move on.  Some have already indicated that they cannot wait out the 18 months for the field to expand.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Alan Miller

    > Some have already indicated that they cannot wait out the 18 months for the field to expand.

    We could have let them all go in and let the best ones win out — but no, we had to set an arbitrary number and have fake-o criteria.

    1. David Greenwald

      Seemed reasonable to take a more cautious approach for a lot of reasons.  I don’t have a problem with the process.  I was impressed with the level of sophistication and care.  I wonder if that level of care would have been taken absent this process.

      1. Mark West

        Just as we saw with the hotels, Staff and the CC decided they needed to create an entirely new process to analyze these new businesses rather than using the one already in place and functioning. Another classic example of the City trying to pick winners and losers, with the CC selecting the businesses ‘that they like’ rather than allowing the market to decide. This is the sort of institutional behavior that needs to be stopped if we want to be successful with economic development.

        1. Robb Davis

          I would typically agree with Mark on this but I feel this is a different situation.  This is the first time any of us have moved from a type of business that was strictly prohibited (and even considered an evil kind of criminality) to accepted practice.  Taking a deliberate path is important and while we did limit this to start, in order to bring the community along with the idea, there is no reason to believe that other retail outlets will be permitted to open soon.  This is an exceptional situation in my mind and the reason I agreed to this approach.  I think it has made a difference.

        2. John Hobbs

          “(and even considered an evil kind of criminality)”


          “Not long ago the body of a young girl lay crushed on the sidewalk after a plunge from a Chicago apartment window. Everyone called it suicide, but actually it was murder. The killer was a narcotic known to America as marijuana, and to history as hashish. Used in the form of cigarettes, it is comparatively new to the United States and as a coiled rattlesnake.

          How many murders, suicides, robberies and maniacal deeds it causes each year, especially among the young, can only be conjectured. In numerous communities it thrives almost unmolested, largely because of official ignorance of its effects.”
          I think I’ll light up a reefer in honor of Harry Anslinger.

        3. Mark West

          I have no issue with the City setting criteria for approval of these businesses, but that is all it should do. Set the criteria and then say yes to every potential owner that meets them. There should be no competition for who is allowed to start a legal business in town, that is the role of the market, not the City Staff, the CC or the neighbors. This was only an exceptional situation for those who are unable to accept that what was once proscribed is now a legitimate business.

        4. Alan Miller

          Mostly agree with MW, in that my point was that criteria should be set and met, not the number of businesses an issue — that should be weeded out by the survival of the fittest businesses.  Yes I said weeded out.

          Would not agree that neighboring uses, including neighbors, would not be part of that criteria.

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