Barstow approves ‘cannabis super center’ in former Calif. outlet mall

January 18, 2023 · SF Gate

A new “cannabis super center,” filled with 20 pot farms and multiple cannabis retailers, is likely coming to California’s Mojave Desert. The property’s developer has advertised the 29-acre complex as a “once-in-a-generation” project with a mix of “stores, entertainment, and supermarkets, not to mention its unique cannabis offerings.”

The development, located roughly halfway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas in the city of Barstow, has received heavy criticism from local Christian groups, who warned that it would signal to the world that Barstow “belongs to Satan.” One local politician also claimed the city’s approval of the cannabis property could have the appearance of corruption because the project was greenlit without each individual business owner presenting to the local planning commission.

But the Barstow City Council voted 3-1 Tuesday night to approve the 23 cannabis licenses involved in the project, which is being built inside an abandoned retail outlet mall. The developer has already started construction on the “cannabis super center,” as it was described in one advertisement, according to Victorville’s Daily Press newspaper.

The development spans 24 buildings, and initial plans filed with the Barstow City Council include 20 cannabis farms, six distribution companies, four manufacturing companies and two retail dispensaries. The developer has also said the “super center” could have consumption lounges and a cannabis museum; however, those details are not included in the plans filed with the city.

Councilmember Carmen Hernandez, the only councilmember to vote against the cannabis mall, said she was concerned about the kind of attention the development would bring to the city.

“No one in this community wants Barstow known as the cannabis capital of California,” Hernandez said Tuesday night. 

Hernandez also said she was concerned that the city’s decision to approve multiple cannabis businesses at once gave “the impression that we’re giving a special favor” to the developer. She said the plan needed to go back to the planning commission for further review so “we are not accused of being a city where kickbacks are given.”

Councilmember Barbara Rose, who voted for the new cannabis mall, said that she was not bribed for her vote. 

“I’m not sure what kickbacks we’re talking about, but I’ve received no kickback,” Rose said. “I don’t think the city is going to receive any kind of illegal kickback.”

The converted outlet mall could bring millions of dollars in revenue to the city, according to a city council meeting agenda. The pot companies involved in the complex have already paid the city more than $420,000 in application fees and have agreed to pay $5 per square foot in annual impact fees for all cultivation businesses. (Full Story)

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