Hollister holds potential and promise as a community that provides safe access to cannabis for medical patients and adult residents. Back in 2016, the Hollister City Council narrowly approved the Medicinal Cannabis Administrative Ordinance, allowing medical cannabis businesses in the city. About three years later, the city is ready to adapt to the recreational cannabis market.
Last January, an effort to open adult-use storefronts was presented to city council, but that ended up being tabled for 90 days, while some of the details were ironed out. However, leaders recently opted to repeal the city’s existing medical cannabis ordinance and replace it with a new modified ordinance to also allow for recreational cannabis, reflecting the will of people in the area, as over 55 percent of San Benito County voters approved Proposition 64.
On June 17, the Hollister City Council unanimously approved the amendments during a second reading. Ordinance No. 1179, which amended Hollister City Code Chapter 5.42, was repealed and replaced with an updated version. Some changes include the fulfillment of a request by Mayor Ignacio Velazquez to drop the allowable space for nursery operations from 40 percent to 25 percent, and other minor changes apply. Most importantly, however, the word “medical” was eliminated from the old ordinance to update the law to reflect the provisions of Proposition 64. It’s important to note that like all other California cities that allow both medical and recreational cannabis businesses, 18- to 20-year-olds still need a valid doctor’s recommendation in order to buy cannabis.
The changes affect the city’s two licensed dispensaries—Higher Level of Care and Monterey Bay Alternative Medicine—allowing them to sell and/or deliver recreational cannabis. Higher Level of Care won its permit last February, and Monterey Bay Alternative Medicine won its permit in June. Both dispensaries are still in the process of opening for business and are not yet operational, according to Benito Link.
City of Hollister Cannabis Affairs Manager Maria Mendez provided some details to CULTURE. “We amended our Cannabis Ordinance recently,” Mendez said. “Recreational use was one of our big-ticket items. Currently the city of Hollister allows for cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, delivery, testing and dispensaries, limited to two. At this time we are not accepting applications for dispensaries since both have already been awarded, but all other license types are still open.”
The issue of delivery services was also considered at multiple recent city council meetings, and Hollister leadership questioned whether or not they could ban delivery services from other areas, but ultimately decided to allow some types of deliveries. Several other cities have wrestled with the same issue. “Cannabis deliveries in Hollister are permitted only if they come from a licensed storefront retailer,” Mendez explained, meaning storefront retailers with physical premises, including an address where cannabis activities are conducted. “Additionally, Hollister licensees are also allowed to deliver within the city when permitted,” she said. Delivery-only businesses, however, won’t be won’t be granted licenses in Hollister. “All other deliveries including a non-storefront retailer, or a licensee that sells cannabis goods to customers exclusively through delivery, are not permitted,” Mendez explained.
“Currently the city of Hollister allows for cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, delivery, testing and dispensaries, limited to two.”
Most communities in California have taken a slow and calculated approach to recreational sales, and this one is no different. Hollister is one of the largest cities in the central California sub-region, and is next door to Silicon Valley. Hollister is an ideal location for the inevitable growth of the cannabis market—both medical and recreational.