Costa Mesa planning commissioners on Monday granted the first retail cannabis conditional use permit to come before them, allowing the business Winter Greens to deliver prepackaged cannabis products from a non-storefront location in the city’s “Green Zone.”

The request is one of 64 cannabis retail applications — including dispensaries — due to come before the commission since Costa Mesa voters approved such sales in November 2020 and the City Council drafted local regulations last April.

Although the city has previously approved seven minor conditional use permits allowing non-storefront delivery among existing companies doing industrial-level cannabis manufacturing, distribution and processing in the Green Zone, under 2016’s Measure X, Monday’s approval marks the first CUP to be granted to a standalone business.

“This is going to be our first, and it’s going to be interesting to see how it moves forward,” Commissioner Diane Russell said of the proposal submitted by Costa Mesa attorney Todd Winter.

Winter Greens will operate seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., delivering products to customers who have registered before ordering. Drivers will deliver up to $2,000 in preplaced orders with another $3,000 of product customers can order while the vehicle is en route. The delivery cars will be parked indoors at night.

Winter explained an advanced point-of-sale system will contact registered customers within a certain geographic area of a vehicle with special offers for products available. On-the-spot orders will then be queued up for the driver to deliver on that route, reducing back-and-forth trips.

“It automatically identifies where they’re calling from and immediately takes them to that car’s inventory,” he said of the POS system.

Commission Chair Byron de Arakal expressed hesitance about letting drivers ride around town with up to $5,000 of merchandise or cash in their vehicles.

“I do have a concern we might have four or five cars, or 10 cars or 15 cars, roaming around Costa Mesa with a ton of loot in them,” he added. “There are going to be a lot of targets out there, and I worry about that.”

Winter said his business allows for smartphone app payments that cut down on cash transactions and assured all vehicle compartments will be secured. State law requires cannabis businesses to secure at least $2 million in commercial general liability insurance.

A security plan, including onsite cameras and background checks, is one of numerous requirements cannabis retailers face when seeking a cannabis business permit with the city. Once given notice to proceed, they may apply for a CUP and, if successful, seek building permits before being granted the final business permit.

“I think you’re the perfect candidate to kind of kick us off,” de Arakal told Winter after unanimous approval with several conditions. “I look forward to your success here in Costa Mesa.”

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