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The argument for Manteca’s leaders to approve 2, instead of 3, cannabis stores
pot store
A storefront marijuana dispensary that is located in San Diego.

Manteca’s elected leaders Monday could effectively be putting two concerns out of business.

They are Main Auto Repair and Chuck’s Place.

The two businesses could be collateral damage in the gold rush.

That’s a gold rush as in Acapulco Gold —the Baby Boomer moniker given premium grade marijuana that provided billions of dollars in legal profits over the decades.

The owners of the two business lease their respective space —one in a small business park along West Yosemite Avenue with a commanding view of the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

The other is in the heart of munchies-ville on the southwest quadrant of the Highway 99 and Yosemite Avenue with a view of the Home Depot parking lot.

It’s the perfect one-stop shopping, so to speak, for adherent cannabis users that might want to pick up something to satisfy appetite cravings. There is a Chipotle’s, Mickey D’s, Chick-fil-A, Carl’s Jr., Sourdough & Co., Mr. Pickle’s. Panda Express, In-n-Out Burger, and Ono Hawaiian to name a few.

Both Main Auto Repair and Chuck’s Place lease their space.

But it may not be for long.

That’s because money talks.

And contrary to some diehard opponents to the idea of Manteca’s leaders going through and issuing even one permit to open a storefront cannabis business in the Family City, the M&M effective is real.

That is M&M as in marijuana and money.

It is why marijuana dispensary applicants are willing to pay premium square footage prices for space that are significantly above market.

As such, most landlords would find the temptation of a legal business willing to fork out more money than the market demands for a solid location irresistible.

Talk to either business owner, and you might be surprised.

They are kind of resigned to the fact they could be sent packing.

The word “could” is the key.

The ordinance put in place — unless amended by the City Council — authorizes elected officials to award up to three concerns to sell marijuana legally from a storefront in Manteca.

There are four applicants.

One of the other two wants to be a neighbor to Dairy Queen on South Main Street. The other wants to be in the professional office/medical plaza area anchored by Valley Oak Dental on the northwest corner of West Yosemite Avenue and Trevino Avenue.

The council, when they meet Monday, Dec. 18,  at 1 p.m. to conduct a public hearing, will decide if three, two, one, or none are allowed to open storefronts.

Pardon the cliche, but you’d have to be on drugs to believe the City Council will issue no permits.

The reason is clear. It is a legal business.

Data the state requires dispensaries to record from customers show there are easily 7,000 or so adults over 21 that are buyers in the two Manteca ZIP codes that once you toss in rural areas represents roughly 95,000 people.

And the money the sales tax and the individual community benefit agreement each dispensary comes up with the city is serious cash.

Marijuana is here to stay.

It would likely take the Islamic Republic of Iran invading and conquering the United States to change that.

More importantly from a public health and safety standpoint, those willing to pay the higher price at a storefront operation controlled tightly by a city and product monitored extensively by the state have assurances toxic chemicals aren’t involved in the process.

They also have assurances their vice — we all have one of some type even if it is devouring a gallon of ice cream every weekend — isn’t lining the pockets of drug cartels and gangs or employing those forced to work in inhumane conditions without being properly compensated.

It also assures the buyer of a “safe exchange”, if you will.

They are purchasing their cannabis products in a pleasant, well-secured location that is not in some alley, an unknown house in a seedy area, or out in the middle of nowhere.

To be clear, cannabis stores will be less of a crime problem as well than liquor stores.

If you doubt that, just ask two liquor store owners — Manteca Mayor Gary Singh and Councilman Mike Morowit.

Both have to deal with shoplifters.

Given the security and controlled access at the cannabis stores Manteca is requiring based on jurisdictions that did it right, shoplifting will be nil.

As far as someone under 21 being able to get inside a pot store or let alone purchase marijuana at a location even by hanging around in a parking lot for an adult stranger to give them money to buy for them, it isn’t going to happen.

Security is not going to allow anyone who is clearly way under 21 in the front door.

To gain entry into a cannabis store beyond the lobby requires a full-scan of a driver’s license.

For those that don’t carry cash or who make come up short, there are ATMs in most cannabis dispensaries.

Unlike liquor stores where very little of the alcohol is behind the counter, everything in a cannabis store can only be accessed working with a clerk.

Some point to armed robberies of cannabis stores that have occurred elsewhere. They are, for the record, few and far between.

And if you review the security apparatus and procedures, Manteca is requiring including live video feed to the police dispatch center, the risk for armed robberies is extremely low.

Banning cannabis dispensaries operating under such rules because of potential armed robbery threats without applying it to banks and liquor stores is laughable given how severely the odds are being reduced.

Given all of that, the City Council should think long and hard Monday about the need to grant all three permits.

It will be proportionately easier for the police department to keep tabs on two marijuana storefronts instead of three.

Concerns council members have expressed about having competition — more instead of less cannabis storefronts — is a tad bizarre.

Clearly, more than one store will mean both would need not to get carried away with prices or else risk losing a share of their business to others on consumer cost alone.

And if the selections and prices aren’t to the liking of a potential customer, other dispensaries are within short drives to the north, south, and west of Manteca.

As for less marijuana sales at a Manteca store based on prices hurting the city’s bottom line, it really doesn’t.

Community benefit agreements based on percentage of sales plus sales tax is price driven and not simply volume driven.

It is why the council should give serious thought to issuing just two permits instead of three.

They also should give some thought to having the city’s economic development staffer work with any business displaced by council action awarding the privilege to sell marijuana at a given location.

After all, the biggest financial benefactor after the purveyors of marijuana will be the City of Manteca.

They should do everything within reason to make sure by saying “yes” or “no” to specific locations they are not making big losers out of Manteca concerns so the city can enjoy a lucrative revenue windfall.


This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at