Natural Supplements, a full-scale cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, retail and distribution business, received approval from the Antioch City Council this week.
The council voted 3-2 to approve the operating agreement, with council members Lori Ogorchock and Mike Barbanica dissenting.
City Attorney Thomas Smith said the operating agreement benefited the city in a number of ways, including annual increases for the first four years.
Under the 10-year operating agreement, which includes two possible five-year extensions, the operator will pay the city a percentage of its gross revenue each month.
Another benefit to the city, Smith said, is the social equity program that attaches to agreements in which businesses help support local nonprofits.
“Social equity programs give businesses the opportunity to give back to their communities,” Smith said.
Under the agreement, the operator selected Rubicon Programs, an anti-poverty program that provides workforce services to justice-affected job seekers, many of whom were previously incarcerated and affected by the war on drugs.
But some committee members questioned the process of selecting the nonprofit, suggesting other nonprofits that might benefit.
Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock said that while she appreciates Rubicon’s work, she would like to see a list of nonprofits and let the council decide.
“I’m looking for nonprofits for seniors, veterans and special needs, such as Veteran Centers, Meals on Wheels, Stand Down on the Delta and White Pony Express,” she said. “So, I’d like to see a list of some of them returned to us.”
Tamisha Torres-Walker, deputy mayor of the Cannabis Standing Committee, also questioned the process, saying she would like to see more public participation in the choices.
“What I would say though is that the purpose of these equity funds is to really clean up the effects of the war on drugs, the criminalization of marijuana and the disenfranchisement and criminalization of entire communities that the war on drugs has resulted in,” she said.
“The equity programs that should be funded should be the ones that impact Black and brown communities,” Torres-Walker added.
However, Mayor Lamar Thorpe clarified that the city initially established the equity program with cannabis businesses responsible for selecting nonprofits and working with them to support their programs because the city did not have the staff or funds to handle it.
“We took this approach because we didn’t have the capacity to do a social equity program in the city like Oakland, Sacramento or San Francisco,” he said.
But, he said, if the cannabis board wanted to change the process for selecting nonprofits, it could take proposals back to the council to do so.
The commission first approved Natural Supplements’ commercial use license and design review about a year ago.
Ripon-based Natural Supplements plans two buildings: an 11,200-square-foot and a 19,500-square-foot site at 2100-2300 Wilbur Avenue. No expected completion date was given.