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High Hopes For Legal Marijuana Businesses In Chula Vista

Marijuana is displayed on a table inside of The Grove which is a medical disp...

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: Marijuana is displayed on a table inside of The Grove which is a medical dispensary in La Mesa, Oct. 18, 2018.

In November, Chula Vista voters approved Measure Q, which opened the door for recreational sales of cannabis in the city. More than 160 people showed up to an informational meeting at Chula Vista City Hall Thursday to hear what the application process for licensees would look like.

"We will be applying for retail and non-storefront delivery," said Nicole Connors who is CEO of Saku Cannabis. Connors is a partner in Royals Cannabis, a marijuana dispensary in Spokane Washington.

"Here in Chula Vista we’re exploring the area to see if this is a viable market," Connors said. "We’re expanding into California with the Saku Cannabis brand."

RELATED: Marijuana On The Ballot For Three San Diego County Cities This November

Chula Vista is allowing up to three retail locations per council district, two of which can be storefront operations. That is in addition to up to 10 cultivation businesses and there is no cap on manufacturing and testing laboratories.

"It’s a very competitive industry," said Jared Younker who is a compliance officer for MJIC. MJIC specializes in helping cannabis businesses launch and then connecting them to the legal industry.

"We’re constantly monitoring the city hall results of all the cities up and down the coast trying to figure out the next city to open the commercial cannabis industry — Chula Vista was a good spot," Younker said.

Despite a lot of interest in legal operations, Chula Vista is still battling a number of illegal dispensaries within the city.

"There’s a lot of concern as to what the local municipalities are going to do so far as cracking down on the black market," Younker said.

RELATED: Del Mar City Council Drops Plan To Oppose Cannabis Seminar At Fairgrounds

Chula Vista Deputy City Manager Kelley Bacon said the city has closed down more than 10 illegal dispensaries this year and are working on more.

"We can’t make any guarantees — but we’re bringing on a criminal prosecution unit to put some teeth into what can happen to those who continue to operate illegally," Bacon said.

Chula Vista hopes to start accepting applications for marijuana businesses shortly after the new year. Then the city will have a third party vet and rate the applications before choosing operators.

Reported by Roland Lizarondo

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