Cannabis business denied reconsideration

Two appeal hearings pushed for California Finest, LLXP Corp.

The Hollister City Council chose Tuesday night not to revisit a former medical cannabis business applicant after the owner asked for another chance. Additionally, two appeal hearings for California Finest and LLXP Corporation were pushed to the next council meeting on February 5.

Eric Hecht, current owner of 817 Industrial Drive, spoke Tuesday night during public comment.

“I’m asking the council to bring back only my manufacturing permit onto the agenda for a vote from the council, which was submitted as the nonprofit entity name FBT Jordan Inc.,” Hecht said.

Hecht was previously denied a permit to operate a medical cannabis dispensary, cultivation and manufacturing facility on Industrial Drive last summer despite being ranked one of the top original cannabis applicants recommended to the council by city staff. The 817 Industrial Drive address faced controversy after public outcry over it being near places where youth gather, such as Crossfit San Benito and Rovella’s Gym.

The business owner explained his new endeavor would focus on manufacturing derivatives of cannabidiol, or CBD, a cannabis compound with health benefits that doesn’t get the user high as is the case with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

“The extracts that our facility will produce are in fact the same derivatives that found promising results in preliminary tests with Cannakids,” Hecht said.

He explained that he’d recently developed a relationship with Tracy Ryan, CEO of Cannakids, a California-based cooperative that works to advance the treatment of pediatric cancer with medical cannabis derivatives such as CBD.

“I’d also like to let you know that I’ve been committing myself locally to the community,” Hecht told the council. “To advocate the participation of young adults, we’re exploring teaming up with Gavilan College to provide employment opportunities to local Gavilan students who are interested in becoming part of this new industry.”

Despite his speech, Hecht failed to capture the attention of the council comprised of Mayor Ignacio Velazquez, Vice Mayor Mickie Luna, and Councilman Ray Friend. When it came time to decide whether or not to agendize the item for a February meeting, Councilman Karson Klauer recused himself because a family member owned nearby property. Councilman Jim Gillio recused himself as well because of Hecht’s part in the original batch of cannabis applicants, some of which had purchased equipment from Gillio’s shop Central Ag Supply.

“I personally would not like to have that come back,” Velazquez said referring to Hecht’s application.

City Manager Bill Avera informed the council that Hecht’s CBD-based business plan was different from his original application that included a retail, cultivation, and manufacturing components.

After some back and forth with the council, Avera said he needed consensus from all three members up on the dias to bring the item back for reconsideration.

Velazquez still wasn’t interested.

“As I said, I can’t support bringing this back,” Velazquez said.

“Doesn’t matter for the rest of us,” Friend replied.

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