The Modesto City Council will vote Wednesday whether to allow eight new marijuana dispensaries to open within city limits.
The city is recommending the retail cannabis businesses as finalists out of its pool of 20 total applicants following a nearly year-long vetting process. If approved they would be the first legally permitted recreational pot shops to open under city jurisdiction.
In December 2017 the council voted to allow up to 10 marijuana retail businesses to be permitted, but barred them from the downtown area. Of the eight finalists, four are along McHenry Avenue — one of the city’s busiest commercial arteries — and the rest are in west and south Modesto.
The City Council is holding a special meeting at 2 p.m. Wednesday in its basement chambers to discuss and then vote on approving the cannabis dispensaries. The public is invited to attend and speak at the hearing, as are the retail applicants.
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Three of the eight finalists have existing marijuana dispensaries in county-controlled parts of Modesto. They are Medallion Wellness, which has a cannabis retail shop on north McHenry Avenue just past Pelandale Avenue, and The People’s Remedy, which is a finalist for two new locations in the city and currently operates a pot dispensary in west Modesto on Lone Palm Avenue as well as new shops in Oakdale and Patterson.
Recommended Cannabis Retailers
▪ CR & D, Inc., 439 Maze Blvd.
▪ CV Wellness, 426 McHenry Ave.
▪ Doctor’s Choice, 2039 Yosemite Ave.
▪ Medallion Wellness, 1313 McHenry Ave.
▪ Medical Highway/Modesto Roots, 1944 W. Orangeburg Ave.
▪ The People’s Remedy, 1982 Crows Landing Road
▪ The People’s Remedy, 2308 McHenry Ave.
▪ Phenos Cooperative, 1234 McHenry Ave.
The eight recommended retailers would take over various, and some high-profile, existing buildings in town — particularly along McHenry Avenue. The People’s Remedy plans to open one of its shops in the old Bonanza Books & Comics site on McHenry Avenue. The comic shop had been a city staple for more than 40 years before its owners, who also own the building, closed last December.
Other sites include the former Mitri’s Rugs building on McHenry Avenue — which closed in July 2017 after nearly 30 years in business — for CV Wellness and what appears to be the old In-Shape gym on lower McHenry Avenue for Phenos Cooperative.
The final recommendations were made by the Council’s Ad Hoc Cannabis Committee, which included Modesto Mayor Ted Brandvold, Council Members Mani Grewal and Jenny Kenoyer, along with city staff and representatives from HdL Companies, Modesto’s contracted cannabis compliance agency.
Each of the 20 cannabis retail applicants underwent a multi-step vetting process that included submitting business plans, undergoing background checks, providing financial disclosures, establishing security plans and completing face-to-face interviews. They were then given technical scores and community benefit scores, which were compiled into their final scores.
The recommendations, however, did not just select from the top total scores. City staff said the committee also took the diversity of operator backgrounds, variety of operational sizes, business locations and general neighborhood and safety impacts into account.
Five of the eight recommended dispensaries would need proximity waivers from the council. They are too close to either schools, daycares, youth centers, parks, libraries or residential areas than originally permitted by city ordinances. Once approved the permits will be valid for two years.
Medallion Wellness manager Richard Galvan said he welcomed the competition. The dispensary hopes to open its second Modesto location on the SmogTech property along McHenry Avenue. They also have shops in Atwater and Merced in the works.
“There are a lot of customers in Modesto and a lot of them come from outside of Modesto to see us,” he said. “It will be nice to have (the cannabis shops) more spread out in town for people.”
About a dozen recreational cannabis shops are currently open in the unincorporated parts of Modesto and across Stanislaus County, many of which had been open as medical marijuana dispensaries before Proposition 64 was passed in November 2016. The county is still in the midst of its own, separate permitting process for its cannabis retailers, all of which are currently operating. The county could begin bringing its finalists to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors as early as January.