The Local Agency Formation Commission voted 3-0 to allow Woodlake to annex 18 acres into city limits, in part for cannabis business
By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
WOODLAKE – The presence of commercial cannabis in the Valley is only growing, and with it are Woodlake’s city limits.
Nearly 18 acres of land directly across from the Dead Rat Saloon on Avenue 344, also known as Woodlake Junction, will one day become a commercial cannabis cultivation facility. The company, Seven Point, approached the City in April about the possibility of opening a shop in Woodlake, albeit outside of their city limits. If the City were able to annex the property, Seven Point would start the process of opening up.
All that sits currently on the four parcels totaling 17.9 acres are an abandoned packing house and some small structures that have been used primarily for storage over the last 10 years. With the lack of utility on the land, the City saw the opportunity as a potential positive.
“That’s one of the benefits we saw with this annexation… nobody was scrambling to start a packing house, you know. So now, it’s going to be improved and employ people. All the types of things that are good,” community development director Jason Waters said.
Waters said Seven Point has indicated that aside from cultivation they plan to work in manufacturing and distribution. But as of now they are beginning the Conditional Use Permit process and there is a significant amount of construction to do before they are ready to open.
Clearly Woodlake isn’t hesitating, and with one commercial cannabis operator in town, there doesn’t seem a reason to.
Valley Pure, the lone cannabis business in Woodlake has been open since May, is appearing to be on the straight and narrow in the City’s eyes and possibly quelling some of the resident’s initial fears.
“It has been extremely quiet. We haven’t heard any complaints or any issues. There hasn’t been a problem at all,” Waters said. “We want our businesses to operate in a safe way and they are doing that.”
Woodlake residents made their voices heard almost a year ago when the City was preparing to put a cannabis tax on the ballot. They cited potential dangers like marijuana getting into the hands of children, or stated how their friends or family members became addicted to harder drugs after first smoking marijuana as a teen. Within the first three months of operation it does not appear as if those dangers have materialized. Instead as Waters puts it, the dispensary is running like any other store.
“From what we’ve seen people tend to go in, buy something, it goes in a bag that is completely opaque and they get in their car and drive away,” Waters said.
As for the boon cities were promised by commercial cannabis advocates, there is no news yet. Woodlake city manager Ramon Lara said the deadline for Valley Pure to submit their total quarterly receipts which includes the months of April through June is July 30. When the City receives the total they will charge a 5% local tax which will be paid in cash as cannabis businesses are not yet allowed to open bank accounts.