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Pittsburg approves county’s first cannabis manufacturing plant

cannabis lounge

Pittsburg’s first plant for manufacturing and distributing medical and recreational cannabis could soon be operating in an industrial park at the former U.S. Army’s Camp Stoneman site.

The City Council voted 4-1 Monday to approve a commercial cannabis permit and an operating agreement with Canyon Laboratories, a subsidiary of BioZone Laboratories Inc. Since 1992 Biozone has operated a lab developing, manufacturing and marketing over-the-counter drugs, nutritional supplements and cosmetics on Garcia Avenue, near where the new cannabis facility would be built.

Canyon Laboratories’ plant would be the first such facility in Contra Costa County. The business would operate on Clark Avenue, where Camp Stoneman was based from 1942 to 1954. It would accept raw cannabis materials, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), to process, package and ship products to approved retailers.

City staff had recommended the council’s approval of the permit and operating agreement, which has met all the city’s requirements, according to Jill Hecht, Pittsburg’s director of community development.

“They have an excellent track record and they are one of our major employers here in town,” she said.

Under the agreement, the new manufacturing plant would have to abide by a security plan, limit the amount of THC stored on site, open the facility’s records to inspection by police on request, and install security cameras and card readers, among other measures.

Hecht said the city’s police department has been working on site with Canyon Laboratories to review its security plan.

“It’s part of an ongoing effort — if there are challenges, that is something the police will be aware of in the future,” she said.

In June, the City Council identified Stoneman Industrial Park and several other industrial areas where cannabis-related manufacturing, testing and non-retail distributing could be located, while also prohibiting on-site tasting, sampling or retail sales of cannabis products.

Earlier this year, the City Council voted 3-0 to amend city ordinances to limit the types of cannabis business to manufacturers, testing labs and non-retail distributors. Not allowed were medical or recreational dispensaries, collectives, cultivation, cooperatives or deliveries in the city.

In 2016, more than 68 percent of Pittsburg voters approved Measure J, which placed a maximum 10 percent sales tax on any future marijuana businesses. Based on Canyon Laboratories’ projections, the business could bring in more than $100,000 yearly for the city.

Canyon Laboratories and BioZone also estimate the combined companies could see substantial growth in their consumer and medical products by utilizing cannabis. The companies estimate the combined operations would add about 80 jobs in the next three years.

Story by Judith Prieve