Residents of Bakersfield, Tehachapi and beyond could soon be receiving marijuana deliveries from retailers in California City.
The California City City Council voted to allow 10 delivery-only medical or recreational marijuana dispensaries to reside within city limits.
Although those dispensaries will not be open for the public to visit, they will earn money through delivering cannabis to the surrounding area.
In addition to the 10 delivery-only dispensaries, two storefront facilities will also be allowed to open in California City.
The move comes at a time when the only legally operating marijuana dispensaries in Kern County are in the process of closing up shop, potentially leaving only California City and Arvin — which has a similar ordinance — as the only two places in the county where local residents can buy marijuana.
California City Mayor Chuck McGuire said he was convinced to support the ordinance based on his father-in-law’s experience using medical marijuana to counter the effects of cancer.
McGuire said he believed the dispensaries in California City would help others suffering from medical conditions.
“It’s the moral thing to do,” he said of his vote to allow the 10 dispensaries. “If it improves the quality of life for people, or at least one person, then why should we not?”
Kern County Supervisors banned the sale of marijuana in 2017, allowing 29 medical marijuana dispensaries to remain open until May 24. Despite an appeal by 18 of those dispensaries to remain open longer, the county has indicated their days are numbered.
Dispensaries in California City will allow for both medical and recreational sales.
California City will begin soliciting applications for the 10 dispensaries beginning Tuesday, ending the application period in about two months.
“I don’t think we’ll have any trouble at all getting 10 or 12 successful applicants out of the process,” said City Manager Robert Stockwell. “We’ve had a substantial amount of interest since the very beginning.”
The 12 dispensaries are expected to generate around $10 million for the city in tax revenue, McGuire said, although he was not certain how realistic that estimation was.
He said the city was trying to wean itself off its dependence on its parcel tax, which funds much of the city’s services.
In the last few years, the city has faced the prospect of cutting services due to difficulty passing a new parcel tax.
City leaders see taxes from marijuana sales as a way out of the city's financial hole.
“For me it wasn’t a tough vote because it’s going to benefit the city in the long run,” he said. “When (the dispensaries) get their licenses from us, they can go sell in L.A. County and we’re still going to get the tax revenue.”
The city already allows cultivation and manufacture of marijuana within city limits, which it hopes will help expand the city’s tax base.
Several companies have begun cultivation within the city, the mayor said.
The city is located in prime real estate for marijuana companies, with its access to the Los Angeles metropolitan area as well as Bakersfield and San Bernardino County.
McGuire said marijuana could be delivered to places as far away as Inyo County.
“These deliveries are not going to be driving around the city of California City all the time, they are going to be fanning out,” he said. “And the city is going to get money from that.”