COSTA MESA, Calif.–The Costa Mesa City Council last week voted unanimously to allow recreational cannabis testing, manufacture, and distribution, which will be followed by a vote on April 3, to decide when new rules will take effect.
Costa Mesa had already implemented the same allowances for medical marijuana products with Measure X, which was approved by voters in 2016.
Cannabis businesses are allowed to operate in the area of the city, north of I-405 and west of Harbor Boulevard. Two of the first cannabis businesses planning to move into the cannabis district are cannabis products manufacturer YummiKarma and wholesale distributor SOL Distro.
“Costa Mesa has been an amazing partner so far,” said YummiKarma CEO Krystal Kitahara. “Officials are learning the process and trying to figure things out like the rest of us. The City is committed to upholding the voters’ choice of allowing medical cannabis sales. Each of the different departments are extremely knowledgeable and more than happy to answer all of our questions. As a cannabis business owner, I am proud to be in a city that is setting such a great example in the state.”
“Although it is a slow and extensive process, the City has been easy to work with and officials have been eagerly trying to understand the cannabis industry. We feel honored to be able to function in a facility of this nature and magnitude in the heart of Orange County,” SOL Distro founder Shanna Droege added.
SOL Distro’s new 20,000 square foot facility will include space for edible manufacturing, oil processing, a non-alcoholic cannabis craft brewery, and distribution headquarters. Brands that will be onboard with SOL Distro at the site include Half Lit, Get Zen, Kush Queen, 2WNTY3, ZENDO, Made From Dirt, Trokie, and Pura Vida.
“Our hearing with the City is April 9 and pending approval, we should be operating in our amazing new building in a couple months,” YummiKarma Communications Director Alysia Sofios said. “We’ve created a ‘cannabis campus concept’ in Costa Mesa. With the City now welcoming so many facets of our industry, we can manufacture alongside other amazing brands, as well as have our distributor and lab a stone’s throw away. This allows us to streamline our process and will result in the best and safest possible products for consumers.”
The facility has been a longtime goal for YummiKarma, and will be the new home for their cannabis beauty brands High Gorgeous and Hemp Gorgeous, as well as YummiKarma’s best-selling line of tinctures and topicals.
“Being an all-women company, we put a lot of thought into aesthetics. Think the Kate Spade of Cannabis.” Sofios described. “From a functionality perspective, we made a wish list over the past four years of what our ideal workspace would look like. We took all of those things and turned them into our dream space.”
While these women cannabis executives have been building the dream, Droege admits the adjustment to recreational sales has been challenging for SOL Distro and other California cannabis businesses. She hopes that Costa Mesa’s model for the industry will contribute to streamlining policies, practices, and procedure for state regulators, so small businesses can survive.
“It’s been a tough adjustment in every aspect of the business. We are all trying to run our businesses efficiently, but most of our time is spent learning the ins-and-outs of compliance, regulation and the corporate world,” she said. “The emergency regulations are still not crystal clear and are causing confusion and frustration in the marketplace. The industry is now being over-taxed and with 280E, it makes it nearly impossible for small business to thrive, let alone succeed.
“I would like to see changes made so that our industry stays ‘for the people, from the people’ and doesn’t ever stem from corporate greed,” Droege emphasized.