The final applicants for a Commercial Cannabis Activity license have been selected by the Imperial County Planning and Development Services Department.
Those chosen may be based in the unincorporated areas of the county. Cities have their own rules regarding whether or not cannabis businesses can be based within their boundaries.
There were 23 applications seeking 11 slots among three categories of licenses that include wholesale distribution, with five awarded, virtual retail, also with five, and one physical medicinal license. Seven different entrepreneurs, some with multiple licenses and all with an Imperial County business address, split the available operations allowed in the county unincorporated areas.
One individual, Angel Fernandez, doing business as Movocan in Seeley, secured a license in each category. When contacted by phone July 31, Fernandez was upbeat about the prospect of impending sales but reticent to disclose further information until his public relations associate agreed.
“The Bureau of Cannabis Control (state oversight agency) just made it possible for marijuana to be delivered to any jurisdiction in the state,” Fernandez said emphatically.
Up until the mid-July ruling there were more than 400 municipalities or counties in the state that banned commercial cannabis activity, either medical or recreational cannabis, or both, effectively requiring consumers from those areas to travel to a site in California that allows marijuana commerce, noted the Marijuana Business Daily on its website, www.mjbizdaily.com.
The decision dramatically expands the marketplace for delivery companies, mjbizdaily.com added. The post stated the decision will help businesses gain a foothold into the industry since it is less expensive to have a delivery-only operation as opposed to a cultivation operation.
There are two other key changes as well. The California Department of Public Health approved Cannabis Control allowing medical cannabis products (but not recreational) to have up to 500 milligrams of marijuana per package of edibles, an increase from 100 milligrams. Also, a new rule guides packaging. All products now must be in a child-resistant, resealable and opaque type of container, whereas the previous requirement was just child-resistant.
In addition to Fernandez, there are six others granted licenses by the county: Stewart Namao, doing business as Gateway Distribution, Sutton Morgan runs Imperial Gold LLC, Robert Prada has Southwest Releaf LLC, and Dan Moulton with Moulton Property Holding Inc. All have a distribution wholesale license.
Joann Villareal with Valley Green Rush Inc. and Vinson Hallak with Green Rush Delivery have virtual retail licenses.
Moulton said expects to be in operation by the first of the year but is still submitting his specifications to the Planning Department for his building, including electrical, fire safety and other code requirements. He has 80 acres he hopes to subdivide into one- to five-acre parcels for sale or lease to those who wish to grow marijuana.
“We started in (commercial cannabis) 2007 in Sacramento, expanded to Colorado when it went legal and now based in Imperial County,” said Moulton.
He added, “By next year we should be up and running with one project in cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and developing (land). With any new legislation, there’s some good and some bad. The upside to Imperial is you can grow year round, the electrical (utility) is a reasonable rate and there’s most senior water rights.”
Since passage of Proposition 64 in 2016 it is legal for anyone over 21 to possess, transport, obtain or give away to another who is 21 or over, up to an ounce of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis.
Adults can also cultivate up to six plants per residence and possess the marijuana produced by the plants, according to California Norml’s website, www.canorml.org. Norml stands for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Furthermore, medical marijuana patients keep their existing rights established under Proposition 215 to possess and cultivate as much as they need for medical use as long as they have a doctor’s recommendation, regardless of Prop. 64 limits, the Norml website states.