Santa Monica, California’s First Licensed Dispensary Opens Years After Approval
Written by on June 16, 2023
Though delivery services and dozens of dispensaries are open close by, steps away in Venice and surrounding areas, Santa Monica, California’s first medical cannabis dispensary with a permit will open.
Though Santa Monica falls smack dab in the middle of “America’s largest legal weed market,” the McReynolds firm reports that The City of Santa Monica “severely limits” the number of medicinal cannabis retailer permits. Currently, the City is only issued two licenses for medical cannabis retail.
The Santa Monica Daily Press reports that Local Cannabis Company, owned by Massachusetts-based Calyx Peak, will be the city’s first permitted dispensary. It’s also the first time Calyx Peak has opened an outlet west of Kansas City, Missouri.
Santa Monica, California’s first cannabis dispensary opened last week, six years after the application was requested in December 2017. The permit was granted over a year ago in October 2021.
“It’s six years on from when they decided to do this and look where the market for cannabis is right now,” CEO of Calyx Peak Erin Carachilo. “And not a lot of people have medical cards, because they don’t need them anymore. Since we’ve opened, we’ve only had about a 20 percent conversion rate. I think it’s closer to 10 percent, but you can see how far off that is, it’s people just not wanting to wait.”
Harvest of Santa Monica—a second dispensary planned at 1416 Wilshire Blvd—was also approved, in January 2022, but that hasn’t taken shape yet.
Santa Monica and Cannabis
The City of Santa Monica currently allows medical dispensaries with limited on-site cultivation and light manufacturing operations requiring no volatile solvents. Medical cannabis manufacturing, testing, distribution, and stand alone commercial cultivation are not permitted.
Last November, joining dozens of other communities in California, Santa Monica voters approved Measure HMP with a 66.79% “yes” vote to implement taxes for non-medical cannabis retailers, medical retailers, and all other licensed cannabis businesses. Cannabis-related measures in Claremont, Cudahy, Lynwood, and South El Monte also passed.
Santa Monica’s Measure HMP is unique in that it includes retailers of products containing all psychoactive cannabinoids—i.e. cannabinoids derived from industrial hemp.
But city lawmakers are currently discussing the possibility of growth in the market. One issue, however, is that lots of medical cannabis patients in California simply stopped getting their medical cannabis recommendations because the same products are legal for adults 21 and over without an annual fee.
“We’ve got the doors open, so that’s a start, then we’ll look at how to change this thing. We should be able to do both medical and regular sales. Medical customers should have access to medicine and shouldn’t have to pay the same taxes, I 100 percent believe that,” Carachilo said.
“Most stores should be doing five to nine million a year, that’s normal. This area should easily make 10 million, especially given how many visitors come to Santa Monica. And that’s the other thing because a medical card is needed, it’s restricted to only residents in California. I can’t shop here, right, because I don’t have a California license or ID.”
Calyx Peak Chief Corporate Development Officer Howard Keum told the Santa Monica Daily Press that “Santa Monica is still working off the antiquated medical-only rules,” adding that it’s time for the city to get up to speed and graduate to adult-use cannabis possibilities.
The Local Cannabis Company is at 925 Wilshire Blvd. The dispensary’s official grand opening will be held on Saturday, June 24.
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