Oakdale gets its first marijuana dispensary

Budtender Jackie Avila speaks to a customer about the CBD oil at the The People’s Remedy marijuana dispensary in Oakdale, Calif., on Wednesday, September 5, 2018.
Budtender Jackie Avila speaks to a customer about the CBD oil at the The People’s Remedy marijuana dispensary in Oakdale, Calif., on Wednesday, September 5, 2018. aalfaro@modbee.com

Oakdale’s first marijuana dispensary has opened and a second is on the way, right across the street.

The People’s Remedy opened at 570 Armstrong Way in Oakdale’s industrial neighborhood last Tuesday, selling a variety of cannabis flower, as well as vape pens, edibles and topicals.

It is the second location for The People’s Remedy, which is owned by Mark Ponticelli, Marlowe Mercado and Dominic Truhett.

The first, on Lone Palm Avenue in unincorporated Modesto, opened as a medical marijuana dispensary in January 2015.

Ponticelli said they have also been approved by the city of Oakdale to cultivate, manufacture and distribute marijuana out of a 5,000-square-foot building behind the dispensary. He expects that operation to commence in about 90 days.

Ponticelli said the goal is to grow enough marijuana to supply his stores as well as other dispensaries in the county with cannabis flower. Concentrated cannabis will also be made there and distributed to local dispensaries.

Oakdale’s second dispensary, Empire Health and Wellness of Oakdale, will open kitty-corner from The People’s Remedy in about six weeks, said owner Darron Silva.

Like the People’s Remedy, Empire Health and Wellness began operating in the county and is now expanding to other locations.

Both the People’s Remedy and Empire Health and Wellness locations in Stanislaus County began selling medical marijuana before the recreational use became legal with the passage of Proposition 64 in November 2016.

They are now among 16 total dispensaries awaiting approval from the county and seven that have moved forward in the process.

Oakdale is the first city to give approval to the two businesses, but both plan to expand to other Stanislaus County cities that changed their ordinances to allow marijuana businesses to operate after the passage of Proposition 64.

Ponticelli said a People’s Remedy opened in Patterson on Tuesday, and they are in the process of getting approval for two locations within the city of Modesto.

Oakdale did things a little differently than other cities by first accepting proposals for marijuana businesses before even repealing its ban on them.

Fifteen businesses submitted proposals last spring, mostly for dispensaries, and the city ultimately set a limit of two dispensaries.

Under its development agreement with the city, The People’s Remedy will pay Oakdale $15,000 or 5.5 percent of its gross receipts, whichever is greater, every month for the first year for each of its endeavors -- the dispensary, cultivation, manufacturing and distribution.

So when all four are up and running, the city stands to make a minimum of $60,000 a month from The People’s Remedy during its first year of business.

This “public benefit” fee is intended to offset the burden on city infrastructure, services and neighborhoods, according to city staff reports.

City Manager Bryan Whitemyer said the money will go to the city’s general fund but the plan is to use it to address the impacts of legalized marijuana by eventually adding a school resource officer as well as more firefighters and code enforcement officers.

During its second year of business, the flat rate for The People’s Remedy will increase to $27,500 a month, then $43,000 a month in the third year.

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