San Luis Obispo pot shop permits to cost nearly $100,000 a year

November 29, 2018

The city of San Luis Obispo plans to charge brick and mortar marijuana stores nearly $100,000 a year for operating permits, and it wants locals players in the pot industry, rather than out-of-town businessmen, to run the city’s pot shops. [Cal Coast Times]

Earlier this year, the San Luis Obispo City Council adopted an ordinance allowing for three brick and mortar marijuana stores, as well as other types of pot businesses, to open in SLO. The permitting of pot businesses was contingent upon the passage of a marijuana sales tax, which city voters supported earlier this month.

On Tuesday, the council unanimously passed resolutions establishing permitting fees for pot businesses and establishing criteria upon which applicants will be ranked. The decision is drawing criticism that the city is rigging the selection process in favor of certain local pot businessmen.

Community Development Director Michael Codron said the application fee for pot businesses will be $22,519. Annual permit fees for operating marijuana business will range from $65,900 to $90,575, with retail stores being at the high-end of the range, Codron said.

Critics said the fees are very high and will deter some businesses from applying, thus limiting the number of quality applicants. Councilman Aaron Gomez said the fees are extremely high, yet he still voted in favor of them.

City staffers say they set the fees at rates allowing them to recover 100 percent of the cost of regulating pot businesses. Staff estimates the first year of operations, administration and regulatory oversight will cost the city $1.36 million.

Mayor Heidi Harmon questioned whether it would be better to raise the annual fee to $100,000 or $120,000 in order to give city staff more resources to crack down on the black market.

When discussing criteria for selecting applicants, the debate focused on whether or not to give equal standing to local and out-of-town entrepreneurs and on how much, as well as what type, of experience in the cannabis industry is necessary. While there was some disagreement on the matter of industry experience, council members agreed they want local applicants, even though multiple out-of-town pot businessmen attended the meeting and spoke during public comment to state their cases.

“We are really interested in local people who live here now,” Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson said.

Christianson and other members of the council said they do not want pot businessmen generating revenue in San Luis Obispo and then sending it elsewhere.

Critics have alleged local politicians have been setting marijuana policy so as to guarantee local marijuana mogul Helios Dayspring will be ensured his operations get selected for highly sought-after permits. Ahead of this month’s election, Dayspring and his marijuana brand Natural Healing Center held a fundraiser for a variety of SLO County candidates for office, including Harmon and Christianson.

Dayspring has been accused of multiple pay-for-play tactics in attempting to secure pot business permits.

Local politicians have touted how Dayspring and his pot brand have hosted charity events in the community. In addition to awarding points for living locally, the San Luis Obispo applicant selection process awards points for having a history of supporting local community programs.

The city will begin accepting applications for pot businesses in January.


a small price to pay to keep the youth of living in their parents basements.

Russ J

I thought legalizing would be the panacea of societal ailments and cure the drug war violence. Why should we tax the crap out of weed? If it’s so acceptable to use then sell it like the other drug – alcohol. Does booze carry a much lower community cost? Glamour Girl Mila Kunis says drink up and enjoy. Oh – and let’s not forget the minority tobacco smoker, he’s the scourge of the town; shun them, tax them, shame them. Hypocrites you all are – nanny state!


Keep it local? One thing the media refuse to comment on is Harmon’s girlfriend is part of a marijuana operation. Maybe that’s why “local” is so important?


Christmas, I mean holiday bonuses for all city employees, the additional budget money will soon be here.


Good, that way you won’t put the illegal dealers out of work…


SLO sees the marijuana business as the goose that’s going to lay them a golden egg. This is nothing more than out in the open extortion to offset their mounting financial woes.

It gets more and more easy to steer clear of this San Francisco wanna be.

Jorge Estrada

On the contrary, drug dealers are getting a better deal then the cost of housing in SLO. The locals don’t have the experience (5 years) as required and fees will be a major attraction to those that have plenty of cash money and experience at managing unsanctioned competition. Everyone will make money, even those who have their hands out for the required blessings…. This is nothing new, see NARCOS on Netflix. You must take the NARCOS challenge for a real look into what is going on in SLO. Start with Sinaloa chapters.


What a disaster in the making. $1.3 million to regulate 3 businesses? That really tells you how bad things are in SLO. Rigging the selection process? Remember it’s SLO and they are neighbors of Grover Beach so they know how to do it. Keep it local? They better, where else are those political contributions and parties going to come from? They do not want businesses to generate money here and send it elsewhere? Dah! How about Costco, Trader Joe’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and the other large corporations, where do they think their money goes to? High fees to crack down on the black market? All they really need is to do is go to areas where marijuana has been legal and they will find that these high fees actually promotes the black market because they can sell for far much less. So that creates more crime and problems. The bottom line is that you just can’t fix stupid. But SLO had a chance at the last election and choose not to do so.


Just as a tagline. Since Marijuana is still a Federal crime and these “businesses” can’t use banks, is the County going to accept cash only? Boy that ought to be a good one? I think we might be getting a pretty good lesson in laundering?


Maybe they’ll pay officials “in kind.”


ru, and while you’re going after the “keep it local” baloney, what about the city’s dealings with the Copelands — giving them our land for pennies on the dollar because they’re local so they can strengthen our retail economy — then they turn downtown into a collection of chain stores just like in malls everyplace, and sell a lot of their assets to east coast investors, who now drain even the rent out of town? What dumb hypocrites run our city.


And of course all of the $ now pouring in from out of the Country, Oops,

State are from Legitimate sources.

Real Bank notes?

Al Capone would’ve been smiling big.