By Jonathan Smith
Culver City officials are preparing for a big rush of applications related to the legal sale of marijuana from retail storefronts.
Those who are interested in applying for a storefront cannabis license must do so by 5 p.m. today. The application, which is on the city’s website, is the first step dispensary applicants must take to get a permit that would allow the sale of the drug.
The ordinance, a first for the city, was set in place after state voters approved Proposition 64 in 2016.
Jesse Mays, the assistant to the city manager, said Tuesday that the city expects 21 applications to be submitted. None were in as of Tuesday, Mays said. Up to three permits may be granted.
“We’re looking forward to getting a lot of highly qualified applicants,” he said.
Those who apply must first pass a rigorous background check. From there, the applications would be reviewed by a three-person city staff panel and ranked. Top-ranked applications would then be sent to a five-person city staff panel that will review them and give them a score.
The Culver City Council would have the ultimate say whether a dispensary will be approved or not. The city would only allow three permits to be granted, Mays said.
Applicants must also get permits from the state and Los Angeles County.
The entire process could take nine months to a year to complete.
Among the hopeful is Culver City resident Jose Luis Casarez, who hopes to construct Verde Republic. The dispensary, which he says will focus on health and wellness, would be erected near the corner of Washington Boulevard and Fairfax Boulevard, he said.
Casarez said he grew up in a conservative household and didn’t see the use for marijuana until he started researching for himself.
His feelings towards the drug drastically changed when his father was diagnosed with cancer. He said marijuana helped his father with his pain and lack of appetite.
“We immediately saw a change in him,” Caserez said. “He was feeling much better and was eating again, so that kind of led me to become more of an advocate for marijuana.
If Caserez is successful, his group might have to pay a hefty price for the permit.
Mays said early applicants may spend $10,000 to $20,000 in costs. Those costs would go to pay for background checks and staff hours, he said.
Those funds won’t be refunded if applicants are denied before the next steps.
Altogether, applicants might end up paying $30,000 to $40,000 for the entire process, Mays said.