Woodlake dispensary unsure of opening date but projects profitable year

Green Bean Pharm behind initial opening schedule but still projects multimillion-dollar year

By Paul Myers

@PaulM_SGN

WOODLAKE – Green Bean Pharm, one of the two soon to be marijuana dispensaries in Woodlake, has plenty of work to do before opening. Located on Naranjo at the old High Sierra Lumber building, co-owner Michael Dunaway says there is plenty of exterior and interior work to be done. And while they were hoping to open around this time in February, the opening is currently uncertain.

Dunaway has said during public comment at Woodlake City Council meetings Green Bean Pharm intends to change the façade of the building. By the time they are finished he hopes to have attractive trees and bushes and add lighting around the building and parking lot for customers. On the interior Dunaway plans to create a Bud Room where customers will peruse the items and speak with staff about what they have to offer.

“[The building] is a blank canvas so to speak,” Dunaway said. “We want it to be an experience people can remember.”

Part of the holdup over improvements has been logistical challenges. Green Bean Pharm is currently working its way through the permitting process of construction and all the necessary demolition to renovate the building. Dunaway says there is also the work of getting all the necessary equipment and labor together to work on the building which has created its own set of hurdles. Despite the delay he says Green Bean Pharm is still expecting a good year of sales.

He thinks the first year will yield a multimillion dollar profit margin, because of the amount of customers they stand to gain. Dunaway says they anticipate serving a variety of customers who have been waiting for legal cannabis to become available instead of having to buy it from somewhere else. As well, Green Bean Pharm plans to capitalize on a robust tourism market.

“We’re on the way to our national parks. We could get people from all over the nation or internationally on their way going to the national park,” Dunaway said. “We can give people the opportunity to try legal cannabis in California.”

But there is still a matter of price. The Woodlake City Council has yet to determine a cannabis tax rate. They can tax cannabis as high at 10 percent, and that will be tacked on to the City’s 8.75 percent sales tax rate and the state levied 15 percent cannabis tax. In all the tax rate for cannabis could be as high as 33.75 percent.

“I think people will be a little surprised as the prices with the inclusion of the taxes,” Dunaway says.

Green Bean Pharm does not just have taxes to worry about, they also have public opinion and competition to handle. Valley Pure, Woodlake’s second dispensary located on Valencia near Little Caesars, is already making structural improvements to their façade and building. Dunaway says Green Bean Pharm is no stranger to competition and welcomes it regardless of the fact Valley Pure seems to be closer to opening.

“Healthy competition is always good particularly in the cannabis industry because it forces innovation,” Dunaway said.

He added Green Bean Pharm tries to promote their brand by offering discounts to senior citizens and veterans. They hope to continue to build their brand in the community with positive public outreach. Dunaway says the business plans to help community organizations in money and labor to help turn the tide of a rather traditional public view of cannabis.

Last summer residents spoke up during public comment to vent their frustration over the City’s willingness to allow cannabis businesses within the city limits.

Residents at the Council’s July 24 meeting, when they decided to post the cannabis tax on last November’s ballot, expressed their concerns over marijuana cultivation and sales in the city.

“At first I was on the fence, but the more I thought about it, that’s where my drug use started…and I was one of the lucky ones to get out of it…and I go to the store and see my friends who haven’t,” said Juan Lopez who spoke to the council last summer. “What are we telling our kids…what kind of example will you be when we tell our kids that you voted for drugs?”

Another member in the community said that she feels fear over allowing legal marijuana in the city limits.

“I’m afraid of what may come,” said Mariana Rodriguez.

Frances Garcia spoke to the council in regards to the resources cannabis businesses would use.

“We are already in a drought and we are already having restrictions on water…I don’t think we can have that right now,” said Garcia.

“I think it’s understandable for people to have a negative view of cannabis because of the way cannabis has been used and sold around here,” Dunaway said in an interview with the Sun-Gazette last week. “Reaching out to people monetarily and with man hours is a good way to reach people who have negative view of cannabis and show we aren’t only interested in money… we want to see those people and extend them an olive branch so to speak.”

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