This story was updated on Feb. 2nd to reflect that Main's conditional use permit was approved.
Andrew Main’s small-scale, city-approved indoor medical marijuana grow does pretty well. He stays afloat by selling his organically grown product to distributors for medical dispensaries.
Now, he’s trying to expand his business, Connatural Organics Cooperative, into a large warehouse in Curtis Park — a currently vacant site on an industrial strip near a residential neighborhood.
But between complaints from people who live there and expensive city and state permits required under new marijuana laws, he says becoming “legitimate” has been tedious.
“It’s been a huge financial burden on myself, being a small farmer in the region,” he said.
The city of Sacramento just approved Main's conditional land use permit for the Curtis Park site. He's still waiting on a state grow permit. Without it, he can’t do business with distributors and dispensaries.
Main says the Curtis Park site will need thousands of dollars of work to meet city regulations. Plus, he wants to make aesthetic improvements such as fresh paint, a new fence and better landscaping.
“We plan on updating — making it new again and presentable to the neighborhood and instead of an eyesore, turning it into something a little bit more special,” he said.
He said seeing Track 7 Brewing Company set up shop right across the street gave him hope that the location would work out. Earlier this month, he organized a community outreach event to answer residents’ questions.
"We don’t have consumption on site, grows are actually really concealed well,” he said. “I really think once we get up and going, and the neighbors see our process, it will be more welcomed, whereas right now it's kind of the unknown.”
Some residents have raised concerns about the prospective business on social media platform NextDoor and spoken at public hearings.They’ve complained to city officials about the site’s proximity to places where children play. It’s about half a mile from the Sacramento Children’s Home and a few blocks from a large park.
But the site is compliant with city law, which requires grows be at least 600 feet from a school or a park. And on a recent visit to the neighborhood, most residents said they were fine with a pot grow potentially moving in.
Resident Linda Seddon said she would rather have a business there than an empty building.
“I’m glad that we’re having a tenant in that area,” she said. “I’m glad about having extra security.”
Joe Devlin, the city’s cannabis chief, says they’ve received about 100 applications for cultivation.
“Certainly not all of those are going to be in the most ideal locations, and that’s why we have the conditional use permit process,” he said.