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.”
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