Natural Supplements, a full-scale cannabis cultivation, manufacture, retail and distribution business, got the green light this week from Antioch’s City Council.
The council OK’d the operating agreement on a 3-to-2 vote with Councilmembers Lori Ogorchock and Mike Barbanica dissenting.
City Attorney Thomas Smith said the operating agreement provides benefits to the city in several ways, including through fees that increase each year for the first four years.
Under the 10-year operating agreement, which includes two possible five-year extensions, the operator will pay a percentage of its gross revenue to the city each month.
Another benefit to the city, Smith said, is in a social equity program that’s attached to the agreement in which the business helps support a local nonprofit.
“The social equity program gives the business a chance to give back to the community,” Smith said.
Under the agreement, the operator has chosen Rubicon Programs, an anti-poverty program that provides workforce services to justice-impacted job seekers, many of whom were formerly incarcerated and impacted by the War on Drugs.
But some council members questioned the process of choosing a nonprofit, suggesting other nonprofits that might benefit.
Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock said while she appreciated Rubicon’s work, she’d like to see a list of nonprofit groups and let the council decide.
“I’m looking at nonprofits for seniors, veterans, special needs, such as Veterans Center, Meals on Wheels, Stand Down on the Delta and White Pony Express,” she said. “So, there’s some of them that I would like to see a list of them come back to us.”
Vice Mayor Tamisha Torres-Walker, who is on the cannabis standing committee, also questioned the process, saying she’d like to see the public more involved in the choice.
“I will say though the purpose of these equity funds is to really clean up around the impact of the War on Drug and the criminalization of cannabis and the disenfranchisement of whole communities as a result of the War on Drugs and the criminalization,” she said.
“The equity programs that are supposed to be funded are supposed to be ones that impact Black and Brown communities,” Torres-Walker added.
Mayor Lamar Thorpe, however, clarified that the city originally set up the equity program with the cannabis business responsible for selecting a nonprofit and working with them to support their programs because the city didn’t have the staff or money to take care of it.
“We took that approach because we didn’t have the capacity at the city to run a social equity program like is done in Oakland, Sacramento or San Francisco,” he said.
But, he said, if the cannabis committee wants to change the process for selecting a nonprofit it can bring a proposal back to council to do so.
The council first approved Natural Supplements’ business use permit and design review almost a year ago.
Based in Ripon, Natural Supplements plans to construct two buildings: one at 11,200 square feet and the other at 19,500 square feet at a site at 2100-2300 Wilbur Ave. No date was given for the expected construction to be completed.