HANFORD — The application period for medical cannabis permits in Hanford is now open, and both the city and the cannabis companies are taking every precaution to make sure the process is mutually beneficial.
The application period opened Aug. 2, but Community Development Director Darlene Mata said she has not received one application thus far. She said she probably won’t start to see any applications come in until a week before the period ends on Oct. 2.
Mata assumes the companies want to take their time and make sure they are submitting complete and accurate applications, because effectively, any business interested in applying for a cannabis permit would hand over a check to the city for thousands of dollars, without any guarantee that they will move forward in the application process.
And if the companies do move forward, they could end up paying the city upward of $9,000 to apply for a cannabis permit.
This cost is definitely worth the end result, said Genezen spokeswoman Randi Knott.
“If folks are taking the time to review our applications, then the taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for it, we should,” Knott said.
Genezen is proposing to bring a medical cannabis facility to Hanford’s industrial park that would eventually occupy 1.65 million square feet of the existing Calcot facility on Idaho Avenue.
Knott said Genezen is currently in the middle of putting its application together and should have everything ready to submit to the city in the next few weeks.
After receiving the permit applications and necessary documents from medical cannabis companies — at this point, Mata has no idea how many she will actually get — city staff will conduct a three-phase review process.
The first phase in the application process is preliminary and will include background checks and criminal history. This preliminary determination of eligibility will cost the businesses $4,252, not including a $135 Live Scan fee and $300 background review.
The second phase includes ranking each submitted application according to location and its individual business, neighborhood compatibility, safety and security, air quality, labor and employment plans. This phase will cost businesses $1,689.
Only the applicants who receive 80 percent or more on the city’s scoring scale will move on to the third phase.
The third phase includes another ranking system based on community benefits, enhanced project safety and environmental benefits. This phase will cost businesses $2,241.
The scores from the second and third phases will be combined and the top applicants will be forwarded to City Manager Darrel Pyle.
From there, Pyle will take the applicant recommendations to the council for final approval and awarding of permits. This part of the process will cost businesses an additional $1,102.
City Council decided last month that they would cap the number of permits allowed at 26, with eight freestanding facility permits and two cannabis campus permits, with eight more individual permits at each campus.
City Council directed Mata to use full cost recovery, so she said she worked with a consultant from HdL Companies to prepare an estimate of the time it would take to process the permits and used full city costs for the employees and consultant to come up with the fees for each phase.
Knott said the company is familiar with these types of application processes, and considers the Hanford phased application process to be a fair and just “the cost of doing business.”
Knott said Genezen has definitely done its research and is hoping to provide employees with job training and education for the over 1,000 jobs the company intends to create.
Knott said everyone at the city has been communicative and open about their intentions for the medical cannabis business in Hanford.
She said the company wants to ensure it is doing the right things for the community, and is excited to move forward.