Lompoc city officials say the slow processing of business license applications filed months ago by nearly two dozen cannabis businesses is not being intentionally delayed.
Nearly a year after the people of Lompoc approved cannabis businesses to operate in town, the city still has no licensed dispensaries or cultivation centers and leaders of the marijuana industry say the city is dragging its feet.
“It’s now been three months and we haven’t seen one application move out of the city,” Lompoc Valley Cannabis Association Member Joe Garcia said.
Lompoc’s marijuana industry was approved by voters at the start of 2018 and a marijuana tax was just approved but Garcia said Lompoc residents aren’t seeing their votes put into action.
“The city is billing itself as a business-friendly city but we don’t see that happening here,” Garcia said. “We see a lot of hurdles and obstacles for an industry that voters have shown multiple times they support here in the City of Lompoc.”
To date, just four of the 22 applications submitted since March have been approved. The others weren’t denied, they’re still being processed.
“The City of Lompoc has no interest in slowing down the process for any of our businesses including the cannabis industry,” City of Lompoc Public Information Officer Samantha Scroggin said.
Scroggin said the same small staff that processes all business license applications handles the marijuana business license applications, which take on average about four months to review and complete.
But Scroggin says that time frame is not slow, it’s average.
“It’s not a long time to prove those applications, it’s just going through the process and making sure everything’s in order,” Scroggin said.
But Garcia said it’s not just a matter of patience.
The State Cannabis Bureau set a Dec. 1 deadline for applicants to file for a license with the state and they can’t do that until they receive local approval.
“We have 19 of 23 businesses now in jeopardy of not meeting the deadline because of how slow things are happening here at City Hall in Lompoc,” Garcia said.
The applications submitted are for one lab, four or five manufacturers and roughly 13 retailers, according to Garcia.
Each application costs more than $12,000, which is money Garcia believes should be spent on a city employee designated to the marijuana business applications.
Scroggin said the application review process can sometimes be delayed by the fact that followup with the applicant is necessary to answer certain questions or complete specific guidelines.
She added that two more applications should be approved by next week.
But Garcia said emergency action must take place now to ensure the 16 other applicants gain approval before the state deadline.
He plans to request at next week’s city council meeting an expedited approval process.