Club Sockeye will soon open Gold Beach’s second marijuana retail location.
The approval for a conditional-use authorization turned out to be mostly procedural during the Oct. 21 special Gold Beach City Council meeting. The conditional-use request came from Earl Crumrine and Cory Talbot of Sockeye Farm, LLC to open Club Sockeye in the building they had just purchased at 29970 Ellensburg Ave,, near the Port of Gold Beach.
Club Sockeye previously operated its business on North Bank Rogue River Road in Wedderburn, but had outgrown that location, according to Talbot.
Councilors Summer Matteson, Larry Brennan, Becky Campbell and Tamie Kaufman unanimously approved the application after adding a handful of conditions for the business to meet. Councilor Anthony Pagano was not present at the meeting.
City Administrator Jodi Fritts explained that land-use hearings are a “quasi-judicial” process that have stricter protocols than regular council sessions.
Fritts noted that they had “quite a bit less people than what we have had on previous hearings, so this is actually kind of good. The hearing might go a bit quicker.” Previous hearings for similar businesses had a number of people come to object, according to Fritts.
She made it clear that at this meeting, they were not there to “discuss the merits of whether marijuana is good or bad, because the State of Oregon has already decided that. The meeting is only for the purpose of discussing this particular application," Fitts said.
At the meeting, one witness came forward to testify in favor of approval, stating in part that a second shop in town creates competition, which is good for consumers, and the city could use the tax revenue. No one came forward to object to the council granting authorization.
Crumrine said following the meeting that he wasn’t surprised his conditional-use application was approved. He has opened four different recreational or medical marijuana businesses, with two inside the city limits of Gold Beach, over a span of 10 years, he said.
However, when he made a $100,000 down payment on the current building, he wasn’t sure the neighboring businesses would sign the necessary paperwork that they didn’t object to him opening his cannabis business. But they did sign, he said.
The location of the new business met all of the standard criteria set out for the city’s conditional-use standards for a cannabis business, which include not being within 1,000 feet of another marijuana business or a school; needing to comply with state regulations; located within a permanent building; no outside storage of materials; no drive-up or walk-up window; no burning of remnants or byproducts; no production (growing) or distillation of oil-based products; meeting off-street parking requirements; and a review and inspection by the planning director, police chief and fire chief.
If complaints are received about the business and found valid, the planning director would refer the matter back to the city council.
Additional requirements added by councilors during their discussion included providing cellular backup for security monitoring equipment, filtration so that no odors leave the building, no disposal of production-related substances into the sewage system (not a problem, since they will not be growing plants or manufacturing) and operating in compliance with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
In November 2016, city voters approved Measure 8-87, which permitted taxing recreational marijuana facilities. In effect, approving the tax permitted the use of recreational facilities within the city limits. The City Council determined after the election that the city would regulate the businesses through the land-use planning process.
The land-use application authored by Crumrine and Talbot pointed out that they have been operating in the county for a number of years and that they believe they would be opening “one of the largest stores on the coast, which will bring more tourist business to Gold Beach and the surrounding area.”
Crumrine gave The Pilot a tour of the new location and answered several questions about cannabis businesses and regulations. When asked whether he thought marijuana businesses were on the verge of becoming mainstream, he said, “Not yet.”
“There’s a lot of steps,” Crumrine said in response to whether the process of opening a cannabis business has become easier over the years. “Nothing’s easy about getting a license to do this business.
“First, you have to get everyone to agree. Then, that little box just to record all of my cameras was $8,000. Then every couple of years, the state says you need new cameras. They’re up to $500 for each camera, and I have 25 of them.
“I expect to increase my revenues because of location,” Crumrine said, “but my cost is a lot more than it was over at the Wedderburn location.”
He agreed that marijuana is big business for government. “Last year, the industry gave $549 million to the State of Oregon,” he said. He estimated his business in the old location did almost a million dollars in sales last year. “I think we will do two and a half to three million next year in the new location,” he said.
The City of Gold Beach will now receive the 3% tax on cannabis sales. Previously, those tax revenues went to Curry County.
It’s also a boost for the local economy. “All of these local growers, we buy our stock from them. The people here working for me are all from Gold Beach. They live here; they spend their money here.”
Currently, seven people work at the business, but Crumrine predicts he will need to hire more since the current staffing was for a 300-square-foot building, and the new space is 3,000 square feet.
“Every business nearby will increase their revenue by us being here,” Crumrine said. “People come here on vacation. It will be smart for them not to have to leave Gold Beach to get cannabis. They can stay right here and will have a better vacation.”
Talbot told The Pilot they were just one permit away from opening, and hoped to be open in the new location within a couple of weeks.
The business needs to apply for a new Oregon Liquor Control Commission permit now that they have had their location approved.
The store plans to be open seven days a week, with winter hours of 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
La Mota, part of an Oregon retail cannabis chain, opened its store earlier this month.