Robert DiVitio, Founder and CEO of a retail cannabis company called Element 7, recently contacted Ricardo Chavez, the Delano City Clerk, asking to give a presentation on why the city of Delano needs a legal cannabis dispensary.
During the city council meeting on July 19th, 2021, Josh Black, Element 7’s Head of Global Operations, stated that the only Kern County cities with legal cannabis are California City, which has three legal stores, and Arvin, which has a legal delivery service. Black continued his statement by revealing that the next closest legal dispensary stores near Kern County are in Tulare and Lindsay.
Council Member Salvador Solorio Ruiz was concerned with the setbacks of the locations near schools or intensive areas like parks where youth are able to congregate. In land use, a setback is the minimum distance which a building or other structure must be set back from a street or road, a river or other stream, a shore or flood plain, or any other place which is deemed to need protection.
“Absolutely,” Black responded to Council Member Ruiz’s concerns. “At a state level, we are required to be 600 feet from K-12 schools, youth centers, and daycare centers. I think also it becomes a local sort of consideration to include other types of businesses or other types of land uses.”
Black offered town hall meetings to educate the community and introduce Delano to lawyers who can draft local ordinances or a pilot project that is backed by research. When asked about potential revenue, Black responded that he believes, with a retail store, there is potential for over $5 Million a year and projected that number could go up depending on bans in the cities surrounding Delano.
Black continued by explaining that having a cannabis dispensary store can help medical and holistic needs like Alzheimer’s and is an alternative to opioids. He also explained that only having the only legal stores in Tulare and Lindsay makes it difficult for the elderly and medical patients to travel to.
Mayor Osorio gave a community member, Mario Nunez, his official council time to ask questions. During this time Nunez stated if the only good reason to have a legal dispensary in Delano was for monetary reasons, then it’s not a good enough reason. Nunez also said if people are only going to go to the dispensary once a month, it’s not worth having.
“As an operator, I would say safe access to legal and tested products, which is not currently available to anyone.” Black responded when asked about the benefits of Delano having a cannabis retail store, when various surrounding cities don’t have one.
Another public comment came from Anthony Cortez who admitted he used to use marijuana. “Is this all about revenue?” In his research on Element 7, he said he found that “they sell their product with Playboy” and is concerned that this will lead to Delano having a strip club. He ended his comment saying, “It clogs the mind and takes away anxiety. And guess what? The problems are still there when you get off the high.”
He would like the City Council to look deeper into this issue to see if pesticides will be used and doesn’t want to mess up the environment.
More information on Element 7 and their mission statement can be found here.