Business Hopefuls Battle for San Diego Marijuana Permits

It’s being called the "marijuana lottery.” Dozens of businesses will soon find out if they will "win" a coveted permit to cultivate and manufacture marijuana in the city of San Diego. NBC 7's Liberty Zabala breaks down what other hurdles the businesses have to go through just to get a chance at a permit.

(Published Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017)

Businesses fighting for their chance at the booming legal marijuana industry face a lengthy process, but 40 businesses were granted an advantage from the city of San Diego Wednesday.

On Thursday, the city will begin to accept applications from those that hope to legally grow, extract and make edible goods with marijuana. Dozens are expected to turn in permit applications, but a lucky 40 were randomly selected to be the first in line.

NBC 7's Liberty Zabala reports on the lottery held to secure a chance at gaining a permit to sell recreational pot in San Diego.

(Published Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017)

It was an effort by the city to combat long lines seen in 2014, when the city gave permits for medical marijuana dispensaries.

“We had been waiting in line 3-5 days,” business owner Zach Lazaus said. “We were out in front of the (Developmental Services Department) building at 4 o'clock in the morning scuffling in a crowd.”

Applying for a marijuana business permit isn’t easy or cheap; the initial submission alone can cost between $20 to $40 thousand. Those applications must be flawless and, even so, there is no guarantee they will be chosen to receive a permit.

“You have to go through a plethora of forms just to submit — from a thousand foot radius map to photographic surveys, to general submission forms,” Lazaus said.

40 businesses were granted an advantage from the city of San Diego Wednesday in the battle for legal marijuana business permits. NBC 7's Gaby Rodriguez explains.

(Published Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017)

But despite all the work, he said this year’s process is more organized than in 2014.

The city of San Diego said they will not charge anyone until the first step of the application is completed on Thursday and any money paid will be refunded if an applicant’s request was rejected.