Bay City News Foundation
A cannabis company will have a second chance to apply to open a business in Martinez after the city council this week upheld the company’s appeal of its low ranking in a city application process.
Members of the council said they want more specifics after the company abruptly changed its business plan during the interview process. Wednesday’s discussion was the first concerning an appeal as allowed under the city’s marijuana-related ordinances.
Opposite Coast LLC initially presented a detailed description of a cannabis manufacturing operation in a building on Sunset Drive on Martinez’s east edge, where its owners already operate the Velvet (formerly Firefly) dispensary that opened in May.
But Opposite Coast pursued a different aim during a January interview with the city committee evaluating and grading its application.
Instead, the team asked for approval to operate a business labeling cannabis products, saying manufacturing was no longer financially viable.
Opposite Coast’s three owners on Wednesday defended their pivot as a “smart, rational business decision” for several reasons, including a shortage of retail shelf space for “manufactured” products like edibles, tinctures, beverages and other cannabis-infused items.
Tim Cromartie, a consultant for Opposite Coast, said Contra Costa County now has seven dispensaries, while his firm determined there is enough demand to support 53.
Proposals in Martinez need a score of 80 percent or higher, as graded by committee members, in order to be considered for a cannabis permit. The Opposite Coast proposal initially received a score of 75 percent, later corrected to 79 percent. That score is what Opposite Coast’s owners appealed.
A city staff report said Opposite Coast didn’t provide enough specifics about how they would hire for the labeling operation or for other aspects of the business. Committee members also were wary of granting the firm a manufacturing certificate, when its leaders didn’t know when they would begin manufacturing.
The council upheld the appeal but indicated they don’t necessarily want to give Opposite Coast approval for a manufacturing operation, and they invited the firm’s owners to return, likely in September, to discuss a permit that would allow labeling operations, but not manufacturing.
The City Council issued a conditional certificate in January to Embarc Martinez. On July 15, it granted Yerba Buena Logistic Services separate certificates for non-storefront and distribution operations, which both would be in the same Sunrise Drive building as Velvet and Opposite Coast.
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