The City of Lompoc is considering changes to its cannabis ordinance.
Some business owners say there are too many dispensaries for a city of about 45,000 people.
They are now asking the city council to take action that would mark a drastic change to the city’s free-market approach to the marijuana industry.
“It would vastly change the current ordinance on the books so we want to be very careful about how we move forward on that,” said Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne.
The city council will consider a moratorium on issuing new licenses. Another option is limiting the number of dispensaries and other businesses allowed in the city.
“We need to freeze to figure things out especially with the recession right now, it’s not helping anybody,” said Sal Mansour, manager at Lompoc Greens.
Business owners say that the industry has taken a major hit this year.
They are seeing fewer customers with soaring inflation and high gas prices.
“Cannabis, it’s not essential if you’re not a medical person so it’s recreational at the end of the day,” said Mansour. “People don’t have money. They’re gonna think of gas first, groceries first, kids, school-- all before they think of recreational stuff.”
City leaders say that three businesses in the industry have recently closed-- citing too much competition and high rent.
“A free market will inflate rents if it can hold it, it will deflate rents if it can’t hold it and you may have some individuals that started out and were able to open but because of competition on the market, aren’t able to compete,” said Mayor Osborne.
The City of Lompoc took a free market approach to legalized weed with the goal of allowing the marijuana industry to thrive.
“It allowed us to stay out of the politics of choosing who got the opportunity to have a successful business. It meant that you went through a normal process like every other business in town,” added Osborne.
The city council will begin a months-long discussion on potential changes on September 20th.
Dispensaries, meanwhile, say they will do their best to weather the economic downtown.
“People have this idea that there are lines to the outside like when dispensaries first became legal, but I don’t think it’s the case,” said Mansour. “You can drive by every dispensary that’s in town and you’ll know.”
Lompoc's mayor says that the city needs to consider the impact a moratorium would have on businesses currently in the application process.