Looking to open a marijuana business in Orange County?
With 41 incorporated cities in Orange County, 31 cities have banned marijuana businesses from operating. However, 4 cities do not currently have any marijuana rules on the books. This means that they have not indicated whether they are for or against operating a marijuana business. If managed correctly, these cities could provide a perfect opportunity to potentially strike a deal to open your canna-business.
Step 1: Call to inquire
Calling or emailing a municipality is an excellent way to understand if the city may or may not be entertaining the idea of having marijuana based businesses. Prior to contacting the city, you should research the city website for City Council members. Often the City Council is comprised of the Mayor and other members who are elected by registered voters of the City. It may be helpful to contact 1 or more of those individuals to express your interest.
For this initial discussion remember that first impressions are key, all correspondence should be professional in nature. Avoid stoner terminology and speak about the mutual opportunity between your company and the city. You should talk about the proposed relationship as a mutual partnership and indicate that you would like to operate a fully compliant business.
Some questions to ask:
Step 2: Create a proposal
Often medical marijuana businesses are regarded and banned in cities because it is considered to be a public nuisance. When approaching a city for consideration for a marijuana based business, it will be important to demonstrate how your company will NOT become a nuisance and show the value you are going to provide to the community. Be professional and specific on what type of license you are looking for when contacting potential cities.
In your proposal, you should create an outline of the benefits for the city. Some items to consider including in the proposal are the number of jobs created, potential city revenue, and a community benefits plan. Your community benefits plan may include city activism, fundraising, or food drives. Express your desire to stay away from schools and parks. Demonstrate how you intend to control security and provide a safe business. Show why you believe in marijuana as a medicine and talk about the benefits that safe access has for patients.
Step 3: Attend the next council meeting
Most councils meet 2-3 times per month. Often these days and times are posted and maintained on the city website. Hopefully with your initial contact you were able to secure a place on the agenda. If not, council meetings are open to the public. You are welcome to attend and listen to any meeting. If given the opportunity, stand-up to make your case to the council.
Ask if they would consider a compliant, professional partnership with the right marijuana company.
Keep in mind that you are there not only as an entrepreneur but as an educator and advocate. As a member of the Cannabis Industry, you have to generate a healthy discussion about cannabis to dispel myths and fears that opponents have created over the years. Respond to questions politely with respect to the person asking the question. If you can’t make the city comfortable with your answers, it’s unlikely you will be allowed to operate.
At the end of the meeting, plan on networking with the attendees. Your company must be seen as a resource to the city – not as the source of a criminal empire. Taking time to network and build relationships will pay dividends in the end. Finally, don’t be discouraged. Change does not happen overnight, and perhaps your compassion for marijuana will inspire others that marijuana is and should be normal.
Cities in Orange County without Marijuana Policies in Place
Below are the city websites and contact information for each city in Orange County who have not yet adopted a local ordinance regarding marijuana businesses. Without a written policy in place, it is an opportunity to create relationships with the City Council to collaborate and potentially come to an agreement regarding your business. While none of these steps will guarantee a license approval, they do provide the chance to make the case to the city.
Coto de Caza