NEEDLES — Is the community ready for a business in which customers could consume cannabis?
The city council doesn’t seem to think it is.
Aaron Burns brought a proposal for a cannabis consumption cafe in the old Denny’s Restaurant building along J Street before Needles City Council in their regular meeting of Aug. 13. The business would house a regular restaurant which would serve all, plus an area in the back dedicated to cannabis consumption, for those 21 year or older, sealed off from the rest of the facility and with appropriate filtration equipment installed to prevent smoke or smells from reaching customers in the eatery.
Every precaution necessary would be taken to keep the facility safe and welcoming, Burns said during his presentation to the council; including procedures to avoid customer overexposure, especially with edibles; and third-party transportation for customers.
Dispensaries, as currently licensed in the city, do not offer on-site consumption.
Burns reported his organization already had manufacturing and distribution facilities in Needles and that cannabis consumption venues were being sited in other California cities such as Palm Springs, West Hollywood, San Diego, San Francisco and Cathedral City.
He pointed to Needles’ location as the first city tourists arrive in when entering California via Interstate 40 from the east, reporting 30,000 tourists pass through Needles every day.
More objections were heard than voices of support during the meeting. Councilors, who ultimately took no action on the discretionary agenda item, expressed concern about location; that offering cannabis would give an insurmountable economic advantage over eateries that didn’t; and mostly that the idea was a bit ahead of its time for anything local constituents were ready to accept.
Councilor Shawn Gudmundson cautioned that he believed the community was not ready for that type of business, and suggested leaving things the way they are for the time being. “A year from now maybe,” he said.
Mayor Jeff Williams said he thought the council might entertain a different location.
Vice-mayor Ed Paget said he didn’t think the proposal was anything the people of Needles are currently prepared to accept.
Permitting such a proposal would require drafting and approving a new city ordinance.