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NATIONAL CITY, Calif. – National City City Council took a big step forward Tuesday night towards allowing commercial cannabis to be sold in the city for the first time.

After hearing from the public and much discussion, the council approved a weighted application process for those who want to open a marijuana business. Under the plan, the city will put an emphasis on applications from local owners along with proposals that benefit the community with heightened pay and benefits for employees, among other qualifications.

“This is in order to ensure equitable ownership and employment opportunities in cannabis industry for National City residents,” said Megan Gamwell, the city’s economic development specialist.

“I think it does open it up for more local ownership and so that’s the reason why I went with the 10% [for local ownership] just to get where you guys have been wanting to go to get local ownership as much as possible,” National City Councilmember Ron Morrison said.

The decision comes after council members approved in May an ordinance to clear the way for commercial cannabis sales, including cannabis lounges, which will be the first of their kind in San Diego County. The approval clears the way for up to three lounges and three commercial dispensaries to operate just west of Interstate 5 in the area of Tidelands Avenue and Bay Marina Drive.

Some of the city’s regulations include:

  • Alcohol and tobacco consumption in the lounges is prohibited;
  • Customers must be aged 21 or older;
  • A security guard must be working during the hours of operation; and
  • Approval of permits is dependent upon an Anti-Drugged Driving Plan.

The city expects 10 to 20 applications in total, but council members voted to accept only six of them, and at least one must be a plan to open a cannabis lounge.

The next step is for the council to discuss the application fee. This will likely take place before the end of the year.