The Porterville City Council again dealt with the issue of what exactly defines wholly-locally owned as far as awarding the third cannabis dispensary in the city is concerned.

The issue came up during the council's meeting on Tuesday. It was reported at Tuesday's meeting all three candidates being considered for the city's third cannabis dispensary meet the criteria of wholly-locally owned as established by the council.

But there were still concerns expressed at Tuesday's meeting about how the city has conducted the process to determine someone who's wholly-locally owned to be awarded the cannabis dispensary. And representatives for Bloom Farms were again at Tuesday's meeting to state they've really been the only wholly-locally owned applicant through the entire process and should be awarded the third cannabis dispensary.

Two people who regularly attend council meetings, Horowitz Jewelry owner David Horowitz, and Rae Dean Strawn also stated their support for Bloom Farms to be awarded the cannabis dispensary.

Bloom Farms along with Main Street Apothecary and Uncle Green are the three candidates being considered for the dispensary. At its meeting on Tuesday, the council approved setting a meeting for 6 p.m. Monday, October 24 to interview the candidates and the meeting will be open to the public.

There are currently two cannabis dispensaries being developed in the city. While those two dispensaries have local ownership they also have ownership from Southern California.

The council set the guideline for wholly-locally owned as far as the third dispensary is concerned that all of the owners either have lived or have owned a business in Porterville or the surrounding area for at least three years.

Maria Marrero of Bloom Farms questioned why only two of the applicants, Bloom Farms and Uncle Green were listed on the city of Porterville Public Purchasing website. City attorney Julia Lew stated the public purchasing website was only used during the first round of applications in which the first two cannabis dispensaries were awarded and that's why those two applicants were still on the website. She said the website wasn't used for this round of applications.

Horowitz and Strawn questioned if all of the applicants were truly locally owned and also pointed out the cannabis ad-hoc committee advising on the issue originally recommended the third cannabis dispensary either be awarded to Bloom Farms or the Tule River Economic Development Corporation, which is no longer an applicant. The committee originally made the recommendation to save staff time and resources.

But during oral communications at the beginning of the meeting Horowitz said the council responded by saying, “Nah we'd rather waste the taxpayers money. This starts the process all over.

Your committee has already recommended to give it to the wholly, 100 percent local. If it was your money you probably wouldn't have done it.”

Horowitz returned to speak during oral communications at the end of the meeting, stating “I don't see that they're locally owned, except one,” said Horowitz, referring to Bloom Farms being the only truly wholly-locally owned. “I'm a little confused. You use the term wholly-locally owned.

But you opened it up to people who don't live in Porterville” and to “somebody out of town. None of this makes any sense to me. Locally owned should mean they live in Porterville.”

I just don't understand what's going on with you,” added Horowitz about the council. “If you're going to make it wholly-locally owned, let's make it truly a locally owned business.”

Horowitz also said in awarding the first two cannabis dispensaries, the council made it “so the money leaves the city of Porterville.” He added in this round of applications the council could again award a cannabis dispensary “so it's not wholly-locally owned.”

But on the issue of residency, Lew said “residency would disqualify all three,” commenting on the three applicants.

Council member Lawana Tate also addressed that issue. While Uncle Green is based in Woodlake, she said “it appears the people running all of these are not really Porterville residents but do have established businesses that meet that criteria.”

Tate also said “I'm just as anxious as anyone to get this established as far as our cannabis dispensaries.”

Strawn also referred to the ad hoc committee's original recommendation. “There's one applicant that was in this process since day one,” she said.

He was already qualified,” added Strawn referring to Darin Garrett of Bloom Farms. “What is going on?

Bloom Farms should have been approved when this whole process began. Why does the city council keep changing the rules? He's been waiting for a long time. I suggest you set up and do the right thing tonight. It's long overdue.”

Garrett also stated “we would just like the city to do what's right at this point. We have approached this with complete honesty.

Every penny that's made from this dispensary will stay in Porterville. We're not here to have a conflict with the city or to have any problem with the city.”

Bloom Farms' application was originally denied because the application was turned in after the deadline. But because of confusion about the time of the application deadline, Bloom Farms appealed the city's decision and the council approved Bloom Farms' appeal, so its application was accepted.

A third party independent review has been done with up to 50 points being awarded to each of the three candidates. Each council member can award up to 10 points for a total of 100 points. So as not to bias the council, it's been recommended the council not know about the scores given in the independent third party review before the council conducts the interviews.

Recommended for you