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After opponents recently failed — once again — to keep cannabis out of El Monte, the city can now begin accepting marijuana-related business applications, including from prospective dispensaries.

At their Tuesday, Feb. 18 meeting, council members passed a resolution imposing fees on cannabis businesses. The resolution passed 4-1, with Councilwoman Jessica Ancona casting the lone vote against.

The staff report says officials expect to receive 50 business applications. So far, the city has received 35, City Manager Alma Martinez said.

Some operators will need to submit multiple applications if they want to run multiple marijuana businesses. For example, a would-be cannabis distributor would need to submit another application to also become a retailer. An applicant’s initial first application would cost $1,676.63. Each subsequent application for other businesses would cost $838.31.

The city’s cannabis application process has five stages.

  1. Pre-application: Period to establish the application process.
  2. Application submission: Period for potential business to submit applications.
  3. Third-party review: HdL Companies, an outside company based in Brea, will evaluate the each applicant.
  4. Permits: Businesses approved by the city and HdL will need to obtain all permits required by the city, fire department and Los Angeles Public Health Department and Utilities Agency.
  5. Operation: Begin business, pay annual business license.

There are subsequent fees as the applicants go through the various stages for each business. Through all five phases, if a business submits one application, its total cost would be $39,953.89; for two it’s $53,582.70; three: $67,211.51; four: $80,840.31.

As the city decided in December, only six retail storefronts will be allowed in El Monte, while as many as eight manufacturing, cultivation and distribution facilities and one testing facility will be permitted.

And if Measure PC gets passed in March, the city can start taxing these businesses.

The city’s cannabis ordinance requires an 800-foot buffer from schools, day cares and youth centers, but Councilwoman Victoria Martinez-Muela, who voted against legalizing recreational cannabis in December, was concerned this buffer wasn’t enough.

“I do think there may be churches or tot lots or different spaces that would have an issue with the retail space being close to a child-frequented space,” she said.

Mayor Andre Quintero said while he understands these concerns, the current ordinance already has these buffers. It’s important to follow the city’s law, he added.

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