RED BLUFF, Calif. — The fight for cannabis in Red Bluff has been an ongoing one but it's finally been resolved...for now.
After a year of debate, the city decided it will have cannabis dispensaries.
Local Resident and Commercial Cannabis Supporter, Cody Strock, started a referendum to block the city’s Cannabis Ordinance because he feels it doesn’t do enough to ensure locals are represented in the cannabis market and allows outside businesses to come in and dominate the market.
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Eight-hundred and nineteen signatures were needed and 793 were collected, according to Red Bluff Interim City Manager Tom Westbrook.
Moving forward, Westbrook said that the ordinance becomes effective. The city will "process applications just like we intended to. The application period is still open until March 31 for the commercial cannabis applications for dispensaries. All other applications can be submitted anytime and there is no cut-off date."
Westbrook said no business is restricted from applying for a dispensary, and other applications—which have no cut-off date, pertain to growing and other commercial cannabis operations.
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Westbrook concluded by saying dispensaries could come as soon as late summer of this year.
The ordinance allows for three dispensaries in city limits as long as they are not within 500 feet of a school daycare or youth center.
Early Friday, KRCR's Anwar Stetson asked Strock why he decided to attempt to halt the vote with commercial cannabis already approved.
"Obtaining cannabis and cannabis products isn’t an issue for 99% of people. I can make a phone call and have 10 pounds here before you leave—it’s not an issue," Strock said. "What is an issue is doing it in an equitable way that benefits people, a safe way. That’s what most people are really, really after."
Sundial Collective Owner Laythen Martines has called Strock's referendum a "temper tantrum," and protesters representing his business say that Strock has misled the public—getting people to sign his referendum without the knowledge that there was already an approved cannabis ordinance.
Strock denies claims that he misled the public to sign his referendum. He says that people who signed were willing to delay the ordinance to support his efforts.
Red Bluff locals and a handful of employees from Sundial Collective protested multiple days in downtown Red Bluff this week to prevent Strock's referendum from passing.
The current ordinance, which Strock tried to block, includes provisions such as a “... binding commitment by the commercial cannabis business to provide wages to each employee that exceeds the Tehama County area median income by a minimum of one hundred twenty percent,” as well as “... plans to integrate into the community, and involvement with local non-profits/charitable/volunteer organizations.”
Strock calls the ordinance's provisions a "tactic to make it more expensive to open," and "standard corporate garbage...written by special interests for special interests."
"I have some guys telling me it’s costing them $50-$60,000 just to get through that and apply, that isn’t so much about bringing money to the community as it is making the process more difficult," Strock said.
Martines, who made an application for Sundial Collective, said he wrote 300 pages of documents and spent roughly $5,000 as an application fee. He says the process could cost as low as $10,000 if an applicant writes all technical documents required for the application themselves.
Martines spent thousands more in order to have the most qualified application possible, which he says includes building and security plans.
Strock claims he was harassed and intimidated by Red Bluff locals, Carlos Zapata, Red Bluff Police Officer Nigel Mist, as well as protesters from Sundial Collective.
Martines countered, saying that the Sundial Collective has been "nothing but cordial" to Strock and vehemently denies any hostility towards him from his supporters or himself.
He says he has no issue with any business trying to apply in a fair and competitive process.. "If Cody [Strock] applied, he would have a good chance of getting [approved]" he said.
"If we get it? Great. If we don't get it? Great," Martines continued, emphasizing that the best applications should get approval, whether it's his business or not.
In past city council meetings, residents discussed the difficulty of having to drive to Shasta County or other areas just to get cannabis, especially for medicinal purposes.
Martines says Sundial Collective does deliveries to To Red Bluff "every day" and has a good relationship with locals.
"The people of Red Bluff deserve commercial cannabis," Martines added.
Martines also claims that Strock was coercing residents to sign his referendum with free cannabis.
Strock says he saw people giving free cannabis products to people in line to sign his referendum, but says those folks were in no way affiliated with him and urged them to stop saying that such activity is "illegal".
On Thursday, in a Facebook post, Strock wrote: "A sincere and heartfelt Go F*** Yourself for trying to sell out my community to make a buck. Each of you worked hard to lie to the people here and steal what is rightfully theirs." The post was directed at Zapata, Martines, Mist, and "their dope fiend friends".
Martines concluded by saying he would never use any derogatory language to describe Strock and did not respond to his post.
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