The first legal marijuana operation in Chula Vista opened for business last week.
Grasshopper Delivery, which delivers cannabis products to South County residents, officially opened its doors Nov. 1. This is the first business to open since the city created a recreational cannabis ordinance and voters approved a special sales tax measure in 2018.
The company is owned and operated by Chula Vista residents. Managers have also made it a priority to hire locally.
“Grasshopper Delivery is proud to be the first commercial cannabis operation to open in Chula Vista,” president Andres Camberos said in a statement.
Under Chula Vista’s existing regulations, a total of 12 cannabis retail businesses are allowed to open in the city. But they must be spread out. Each of the city’s four council districts has a limit of three retail operations, which include both storefront dispensaries and delivery services.
“We welcome Grasshopper Delivery to the City of Chula Vista,” Mayor Mary Casillas Salas said in a statement. “Since voters approved the commercial cannabis operations in 2018, we have been working to establish a quality program that attracts businesses like Grasshopper that are committed to running top-notch operations in our community.”
Getting from the point of drafting regulations to actually opening businesses has been a long and frustrating road.
Chula Vista first began accepting marijuana business applications in January 2019. It has taken the city nearly two years to finally issue licenses and have businesses open.
Several City Council members complained about how long the process took and said they’d like to streamline it in the future.
The city also raised business fees in October 2019 from $7,000 to about $55,000 to ensure that the fees covered the city’s cost of processing applications and enforcing the rules. That change made Chula Vista the city with the highest fees in San Diego County.
One applicant, Caligrown, sued the city after being rejected. The company claims the process was “fatally flawed” and is asking a judge to order the city to stop issuing any licenses to dispensaries and re-evaluate all of the applications.
According to the city’s early projections, Chula Vista could generate $6 million a year from marijuana taxes.
When the City Council passed its cannabis ordinance, one of the benefits it mentioned was that having a legal marketplace would disrupt the illegal one. At the time, the city had dozens of illegal dispensaries operating throughout the city.
Those illegal pot shops have since been shut down by the police department and code enforcement.
“We recognize the need for access to licensed legal cannabis in the City of Chula Vista and look forward to serving South County communities,” Camberos said.