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Interest is high among those who want to open cannabis stores in Turlock

How much people make in the marijuana industry

There are well-paying jobs in the marijuana industry in the states where it is legal. A third session in a industry course being offered by Tacoma Community College this winter covers getting a job in cannabis.
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There are well-paying jobs in the marijuana industry in the states where it is legal. A third session in a industry course being offered by Tacoma Community College this winter covers getting a job in cannabis.

Turlock said it has received 32 responses from people interested in opening one of the four cannabis dispensaries the city will allow under a pilot program.

They were among the 40 responses the city received by its July 12 deadline for people to submit what are called requests for qualifications in which they demonstrated their knowledge of and experience in the cannabis industry. The other responses were for businesses that include industrial hemp and the growing, manufacture and distribution of cannabis.

The City Council decided June 11 to issue the requests for qualifications. The city will weigh such factors as the business plan, security measures and the background of the key personnel in choosing among those who responded to the request.

“The volume of responses will make this an extremely competitive process and the best four proposals for retail/dispensary business operations will be chosen,” according to a city news release, though the city also plans to allow other types of cannabis businesses.

This also could be lucrative for Turlock, which is facing financial challenges with its roughly $40 million general fund. The fund primarily pays for public safety, and the City Council recently approved deep cuts to the fund.

City Attorney Doug White estimates cannabis businesses could bring in $2 million to $4 million in annual revenue to the city. That would be from the development agreements the city reaches with the businesses in which they would pay the city a percentage of their gross revenues.

White said Turlock is on track for the first businesses to open as soon as December.

For some context, neighboring Ceres — which is slightly more than half the size of Turlock — expects to receive about $2.2 million from its development agreements with two dispensaries and one manufacturer for the budget year that ended June 30, said City Manager Toby Wells in an email.

These figures do not include the sales tax cities receive from cannabis sales. Wells said Ceres expects to collect $250,000 to $300,000 annually in sales tax and from its half-cent public safety sales tax.

Turlock also collected $220,000 from the 40 responders, which each paid the city $5,500 to cover its costs of processing, evaluating and vetting the applications.

Turlock’s next steps include reviewing the proposals and conducting in-person interviews as well as updating the city’s zoning, or land use, regulations on where cannabis businesses can operate. The City Council is expected to take that up at its July 23 meeting.

Council members have talked about balancing a business’s need to be located where it can succeed against the need to keep it far enough away from homes, schools, day cares, churches and other sensitive areas.

Besides a development agreement, each cannabis business will need a conditional use permit. The Planning Commission would issue the permit at a public meeting in which community members can speak on whether a permit should be issued and under which conditions.

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Kevin Valine covers local government, homelessness and general assignment for The Modesto Bee. He is a graduate of San Jose State University and grew up in San Jose.
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