The city of Chula Vista waited until April 20 to celebrate the grand opening of the city’s first legal cannabis dispensary.
“This is Chula Vista’s very first legal cannabis retail dispensary,” Grasshopper Dispensary’s CEO Andres Camberos said. “Long time in the works. Long time coming.”
Camberos was flanked by dignitaries -- including Chula Vista MayorMary Casillas Salas -- as they cut the ceremonial red ribbon in front of Grasshopper.
Salas cracked a joke about munchies but was serious about the troubles Chula Vista faced in the past few years with illegal pot shops.
“At one point, we had up to 20 illegal dispensaries open at one time,” Salas said. “You know, those illegal ones were such a blight on our community. They were just ugly things. We know they were letting in minors.”
The Chula Vista Police Department said they helped close 74 illegal pot shops in the last three years alone. Grasshopper is the first legitimate business to make it through the city’s intense permitting process.
“How hard was it?" Camberos said. "I mean, it was incredibly difficult."
Camberos, who said it took two years to get to the grand opening, added that the dispensary would have at least two security guards 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He also pointed out that security cameras would capture video of every angle inside and outside of the facility, and that the location is nestled inside an industrial park, away from homes and schools.
“Over the moon to be able to be the very first one to bring you legal cannabis in Chula Vista,” Camberos said, smiling behind a face mask. “You know, this is a win for them, too.”
Chula Vista could eventually have 12 dispensaries spread throughout the city. There will be no more than three in each council district, and only two of the three in a district can be a storefront. The third could be a warehouse or distribution facility.
When the city started this process two years ago, the city manager’s office said it could mean upward of $6 million is sales tax revenue.
“We’ve imposed some pretty high taxes on the industry, and so that will go back to our community,” Salas said.
Right now, a city spokeswoman said there are seven applications working their way through the approval process.
“This is where the public has said that it’s OK now,” the mayor concluded..