LOMPOC, Calif. - Lompoc leaders say the cannabis industry is bringing in big business to the city.
Since the first marijuana dispensary opened a year ago, the city reports businesses have brought in 30% more revenue than projected. That's an extra $130,000 dollars more than what was anticipated.
The large numbers of applicants and interest by the industry in Lompoc has city leaders hoping to make Lompoc the first cannabis tourist destination on the Central Coast.
“We were budgeted at about $450,000 in new revenue from the dispensaries and manufacturing. So that puts us at about $130,000-plus more than what our budget was,” said Lompoc City Manager Jim Throop.
Of the 42 applications, 21 have been approved and more are on the way.
“The council took the free-market approach. So as many that want to come in can, and at some point there will be a business model that will say there are too many in town,” said Throop.
Officials say if the Lompoc market gets over-saturated, a cannabis tourist destination could be the cure.
“The cannabis industry is trying to work with the wine industry to create some kind of a synergy where they can do wine tours, cannabis tours, all the different tastings of the wine, tastings of the cannabis,” said Throop.
Six dispensaries are currently up and running as well as a testing lab and two manufacturers to open soon.
“Business has been great. We have seen a little bit of a decline just because of the influx of the other dispensers opening up,” said Leaf Dispensary manager Brett Ross.
The latest addition, Seaweed Dispensary, will be the first retailer to offer an onsite smoking lounge on the Central Coast.
“That's why we did it, to set ourselves apart from others,” said Seaweed Co-owner Todd Mitchell.
The city reported it attracts pot businesses by having a six month application process. Many other cities can take up to a year-and-a-half. They also note the lower cost.
“Our operational cost for someone to start up here is much much less than other places,” explained Throop.
Eight more cannabis retailer applications are approved and plan to open soon.
There are six pot shops for the estimated 40,000 people who live in Lompoc currently, but local weed shops said business is still flowing.