By JOSH FRIEDMAN
The city of San Luis Obispo has received 12 applications for marijuana businesses, nine of which are for brick and mortar dispensaries. Two of the applications are for delivery services and one is for a micro-enterprise.
San Luis Obispo’s ordinance allows for three brick and mortar marijuana stores, as well as other types of pot businesses to operate in the city. The city accepted applications for marijuana business permits between Jan. 7 and Jan. 29, according to the city’s website. Now that the deadline has passed, the city has stopped accepting applications.
SLO officials charge a $22,519 application fee for pot business permits. Applicants can reportedly submit a deposit of $7,431 and then, if they receive the permit, pay the remaining $15,088.
Annual permit fees for operating marijuana businesses are even higher. They range from approximately $65,900 to $90,575, with retail stores being at the high end of the range.
Critics have said the fees are very high and would deter some businesses from applying, thus limiting the number of quality applicants. It is unclear if that has turned out to be the case.
Numerous pot businesses and entrepreneurs showed interest in obtaining an operating permit in San Luis Obispo, with people in the industry, both local and from out of town, speaking at a city council hearing in November.
At the hearing, council members agreed they wanted local applicants. The city is using a scoring process for ranking applications that favors applicants with SLO County residents involved in their businesses and who promise to predominantly hire SLO County residents.
The scoring process also awards points for having a history of supporting local community programs, which prompted some critics to allege the city is skewing the process in favor of Helios Dayspring, a local marijuana mogul. Dayspring’s pot business has put on multiple community events, including several for children.
Other criteria for which applicants receive points include having principals in the business who earn at or below the median household income and having a track record of operating a legally compliant pot business. The city, however, does not penalize applicants for prior violations of marijuana rules if staffers determine them to have been minor.