Port Hueneme could host Ventura County’s first cannabis lounges as momentum to revise the city’s cannabis ordinance continues.
The City Council unanimously approved an ordinance in its first reading Monday to amend the municipal code to allow cannabis use in up to five lounges.
City officials said the lounges would help ensure its revenue-generating cannabis dispensaries are competitive with those planned in nearby Oxnard and Ventura.
Port Hueneme has nine dispensaries and five more in the process of opening their doors, Police Chief Andrew Salinas said at Monday’s meeting. Most of the shops are located in what is known as “the Green Mile,” a stretch of Channel Islands Boulevard between Ventura Road and Wheelhouse Avenue.
“To continue to take advantage of the revenues generated and to allow us to evolve with the industry, that's why we are now looking to potentially allow these lounges so that we can stay ahead of the curve,” Tony Stewart, the city's community development director, said Monday.
In December, the council directed city staff to draft an ordinance to allow cannabis lounges.
If the ordinance passes in its second reading at the council's March 21 meeting, Port Hueneme will be the first city in the county to approve cannabis lounges, according to Scott Matalon, the city's spokesman.
Ojai is also debating whether to open up lounges. The Ojai City Council considered cannabis lounges in November and is awaiting a recommendation from the city's Planning Commission.
Port Hueneme's draft lounges ordinance includes these restrictions:
Locate within or adjacent to cannabis dispensaries
Operate on a membership-only basis to limit the number of customers and their intoxication levels
Limit cannabis consumption to purchases at the associated dispensary
Prohibit consumption of tobacco and alcohol
Councilman Steven Gama suggested allowing more than five lounges to help local dispensaries compete with other cities.
“I think we all agree there is going to be consolidation, and there's going to be some heavy competition,” Gama said. “I want our city to be successful with as many dispensaries as we can, but I don't necessarily think it's going to be all of them surviving what’s sure to come.”
Wheelhouse Dispensary and Tradecraft Farms are the city’s first two dispensaries to show interest in opening up cannabis lounges.
In a presentation to the City Council in December, Jessica Wells of Wheelhouse said the dispensary anticipates generating about $1.2 million in its first year operating a cannabis lounge. Port Hueneme will collect about $53,000 in taxes based on the city’s 5% tax on gross total revenue.
Wheelhouse hopes to bring in about $2.2 million in revenue by the third year, about $102,868 of which would go into the city’s coffers, Wells said.
This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Port Hueneme could open Ventura County's first cannabis lounges