In The Weeds
Marijuana in California and beyond
Chula Vista

High Hopes Dashed for First Chula Vista Pot Shop Proposals

Since January 2019, the city has received 136 applicants.

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The city of Chula Vista has rejected every proposed pot shop in its first batch of applications since it started accepting submission a year ago.

Chula Vista first began accepting requests for authorized and licensed cannabis businesses last January, so far receiving 136 applications.

Applicants can apply for cannabis retail, manufacturing, testing, distribution and cultivation in city limits.

But according to documents obtained by NBC 7, the first 20 cannabis business-hopefuls that have gone through the application process have been rejected.

The reasons for denied applications ranged from potential owners or managers having criminal histories or participating in illegal marijuana sales in the past, to failing to provide fingerprints for future staff for a complete background check.

“The fact that we’re one year in, in Chula Vista and people don’t yet have their doors open is not surprising to me at all,” said Jessica McElfresh, a legal cannabis advocate and attorney.

In this week's San Diego Explained, NBC 7's Catherine Garcia is joined by Voice of San Diego's Jesse Marx to help break down marijuana laws in different San Diego municipalities.

McElfresh said Chula Vista’s application process is much more complex than other California cities.

“An extensive merit-based application process, more of a traditional licensing process on steroids,” she said.

The process has included retaining a third-party consultant, HdL Companies, who evaluates and scores potential businesses.

“I think they had a timeline or a possible idea that they would have this further along than they would have now,” McElfresh added.  

And while she believes this is progress and that Chula Vista is closer to legal marijuana in the city, even if someone were approved tomorrow, it’s still a way off from a business opening its doors.

“Bare minimum, six months, probably longer,” McElfresh said.

NBC 7 asked for an interview with the Chula Vista City Attorney to get an update on the enforcement side of battling illegal dispensaries in the city but did not receive a response to our request.

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