A new medical marijuana manufacturing facility has opened in Salinas, California—despite the fact that medical marijuana dispensaries are prohibited from operating there.
Altai Brands, which manufactures a wide range of marijuana-infused candies and chocolates, opened up shop in a warehouse facility in Salinas, the seat of Monterey County, reports local NBC affiliate KSBW.
“This is a manufacturing business that is going above and beyond to assure safety and security,” City Councilman Steve McShane told KSBW. “As we’ve looked at this as a manufacturing business through an application process with the city of Salinas, they are operating legally, safely and above and beyond what’s been asked of them as a business.”
Altai Brands can manufacture marijuana-infused items in Salinas because they are not growing or selling their products within city limits.
According to the Salinas Californian, the city has had an ordinance prohibiting the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries on the books for some time, although Monterey County recently approved its first dispensary earlier this year.
Some of the products manufactured by Altai Brands include marijuana-infused peanut cream bars, espresso bean “pips” and sea salt caramel bon bons.
Councilman McShane, who oversees the district in which the plant will be operating, solicited feedback from his constituents on his Facebook page. The commenters appeared to be divided about the merits of letting the business operate in the city.
“We need to help grow this business not run them off,” wrote one commenter. “We are talking about jobs and sales tax for the city of Salinas.”
“If the voters of Salinas have decided that medical pot can’t be dispensed in the city then it shouldn’t be produced/packaged/distributed from our city either,” countered another.
Altai Brands, for its part, released a statement calling the city a “great partner:”
All of us at Altai Brands are proud to bring our wholesale operation to Salinas. The city has been a great partner. For the past several months, we have worked directly with the city council, the city manager and the city attorney to ensure all city codes and laws were followed. We are solely a wholesale manufacturer of cannabis-edible products. Our facility and our products meets and exceeds state requirements for such products. There will be no cannabis plant material on site. We only use cannabis in extract form as just one of our many ingredients. All sales will take place outside of Salinas, distributed to dispensaries only throughout the state. We are excited about building a legitimate industry that helps people, and we thank our friends, neighbors and city officials who have been supportive during this launch.
The debate over the plant’s opening in Salinas comes after medical marijuana advocates in Orange County notched a critical win in another highly contentious debate over commercial marijuana operations in Santa Ana.
On Friday, Orange County Superior Court Judge David R. Chaffee rejected a petition to temporarily freeze the approval of 20 medical marijuana dispensaries that had won the right to operate through a city-commissioned lottery process. Opponents had argued the city’s lottery process was unfair.