Looking to increase equity in Sacramento’s burgeoning cannabis industry, the City Council this week unanimously approved the addition of 10 new storefront dispensary permits.
The new permits will benefit participants in the City’s Cannabis Opportunity Reinvestment and Equity (CORE) program, which works to remove barriers of entry into the cannabis industry for individuals and communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.
“By adding these permits, the City is taking several steps toward achieving its goal of 50% CORE-eligible ownership of all cannabis business permits,” said Davina Smith, who leads the City’s Office of Cannabis Management.
Though there are many ways to participate in the local cannabis industry — including cultivation, manufacturing, testing and delivery — the storefront dispensary is the most sought-after business model, Smith said.
The City previously had set a cap of 30 storefront dispensary permits, which were awarded to holders years ago. Because of this, participants in the CORE program, which launched in 2018, have had little opportunity to open a storefront dispensary, even after completing the program’s business and mentorship training.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg late last year proposed adding storefront permits for CORE participants. A Council workshop followed, as did several stakeholder meetings and a digital survey to help decide possible criteria for awarding permits.
Following Council discussion and direction, new permits will be awarded as part of a competitive “Request for Qualifications” process that evaluates CORE applicants’ business readiness and likely success operating a dispensary.
The Office of Cannabis Management currently is working to finalize the RFQ criteria, which it expects to release early next year.
When approving the new storefront dispensary permits, Council also set timelines for when the new dispensaries must be operational and provisions for keeping the permits under CORE-participant ownership.
All cannabis businesses in Sacramento are required to pay a 4% gross receipts tax, so the new 10 storefront permits likely will generate new Business Operating Tax (BOT) revenues for the City. The current annual BOT paid by storefront dispensaries range from $81,000 to $650,000.
Info Re CORE Program
CANNABIS OPPORTUNITY REINVESTMENT AND EQUITY (CORE) PROGRAM
The CORE Program is a program created to assist individuals and communities who are facing barriers to starting cannabis businesses due to the historical disparate enforcement of cannabis crimes.
On November 28, 2017, the City Council authorized staff to create a program to address the negative impacts of disproportionate enforcement of cannabis related regulation in the city of Sacramento before the adoption of Proposition 64 and directed staff to return to City Council with a resolution to establish the program. On August 9, 2018, the City Council adopted Resolution 2018-0323 establishing the program and adopting a zero-dollar fee and appropriate a funding for business permits for CORE participants.
On March 26, 2019, the City Council awarded the contract to two organizations, namely, the Sacramento Asian Chamber of Commerce (SACC) and the Greater Sacramento Urban League (GSUL) to administer the program.
HOW CAN I APPLY?
The CORE program will be administered by SACC and GSUL to which eligible applicants must submit their applications. If you are interested in becoming a CORE Program participant, please contact SACC and GSUL directly at the contact information provided below. Individuals and businesses who have previously submitted an interest form will be contacted by the organizations with regard to the next steps.
|SACRAMENTO ASIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE|
Contact: Brandon Lewis, Program Manager
|GREATER SACRAMENTO URBAN LEAGUE|
Contact: Brenda Davis, Program Director
WHO CAN PARTICIPATE IN THE CORE PROGRAM?
To be eligible for the CORE Program, they must qualify under one of the five classifications below. Classifications 1 and 2 are for individuals, while Classifications 3, 4 and 5 are for businesses.