Jefferson Matthew VanBilliard is a leo that enjoys all things cannabis and is just trying his best. He let us know that although the desert will always be his home you can find him on Fourth St. in Santa Ana battle rapping teenagers or at the local high school where he coaches girls varsity volleyball without anyone’s permission.
The Santa Ana Cannabis Association (SACA) is an organization of cannabis businesses in Santa Ana that partner with policy makers and community leaders to bring awareness to the cannabis industry. Their goal is to empower local businesses and to promote safety and education through community programs and cooperation with residents, businesses, and consumers.
Call me old fashioned, but the first day of the new year is usually spent recovering from the previous night’s festivities and watching people pretend to be warm while waving on a float. For this brave journalist, 9am on January 1st, 2019 would mark the year anniversary of legal recreational cannabis being available in Orange County to anyone over the age of 21. To celebrate such a monumental event in our history I met with newly appointed city councilman David Penaloza, councilman Jose Solorio, cannabis lawyer Chris Glew, and SACA’s wonderful yet slightly intimidating Melahat Rafiei to tour some of the county’s 19 legal dispensaries that are currently in operation.
The City of Santa Ana began allowing adult-use sales on January 1, 2018 by giving existing medical cannabis stores the opportunity to also sell adult-use products. This move towards legalization has brought the city just over 5 million in revenue that will be used to fund educational programs as well as offer additional enforcement for cities that have experienced a number of non-legal cannabis clubs continue to operate without adherence to prop 64 guidelines.
Dispensaries like 420 Central in Santa Ana have already submitted applications for the cultivation of cannabis on site pending the approval of our city council and after obtaining a state license for distribution. This is great news for local residents looking to break into the industry or anyone that understands the benefits of shopping local.
Our day long trek through Orange County’s “Cannabis Opportunity Zone” as Mr. Solorio affectionately calls it, brought a better understanding to our local lawmakers of our communities combined effort towards compliancy as well as celebrate how far we’ve come in the past year.
The number of cannabis businesses is expected to earn the city a projected $12.5 to $14 million in the upcoming fiscal year and with the possibility of up to eleven more storefronts being allowed, it doesn’t look like cannabis, or its wide range of users, are going anywhere.