The City has approved 10 new cannabis dispensary permits. Here’s who can apply and how

The City of Sacramento has opened a “request for qualifications” (RFQ) process for the opportunity to apply for one of 10 new storefront cannabis dispensary permits.

The City Council approved the new storefront dispensary permits in October, increasing the number of storefront permits allowed in the city from 30 to 40.

To be considered for the new permits, applicants must be a participant in the City’s Cannabis Opportunity Reinvestment and Equity (CORE) program, which works to remove barriers of entry into the cannabis industry for individuals and communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.

“We are excited to launch this RFQ process, which expands the City’s efforts to increase equity in the local cannabis industry,” said Davina Smith, head of the City’s Office of Cannabis Management.

The RFQ materials can be found here and must be submitted by Feb. 19. An evaluation period will be held Feb. 22-March 15, with an announcement of the selected applicants occurring at the end of March.

Questions about the RFQ process can be submitted through the application portal until Jan. 29, Smith said. All questions and responses will be posted in the portal so everyone can benefit from the information. Applicants can also review this PowerPoint presentation for additional guidance.

The RFQ process –which requires applicants to submit a statement of qualifications composed of a cover letter, qualifications, experience, business readiness and a letter of reference — was developed based upon stakeholder input, City Council direction and feedback from the City Attorney’s office, Smith said.

Evaluation of submitted materials will be “blind” – meaning panelists will not see an applicant’s name and other personal information to ensure scoring is based solely on presented qualifications. The 10 highest scoring applicants will be provided an opportunity to apply for a storefront permit, Smith said.

The City previously had set a cap of 30 storefront dispensary permits, which were awarded to holders years ago. Because of this, participants in the CORE program, which launched in 2018, have had little opportunity to open a storefront dispensary, even after completing the program’s business and mentorship training.

The City contracts with the Greater Sacramento Urban League and The Sacramento Asian-Pacific Chamber of Commerce to provide CORE participants with business training, mentoring opportunities, technical assistance, expungement services and other business-readiness assistance.

All cannabis businesses in Sacramento are required to pay a 4% gross receipts tax, so the new 10 storefront permits likely will generate additional Business Operating Tax (BOT) revenues for the City. The current annual BOT paid by storefront dispensaries range from $81,000 to $650,000.

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