In 2017, California had 162 cities that prohibited marijuana retail sales. Now, attempts are being made by Catalyst Cannabis Co., a cannabis retailer, to ensure the legalization of retail cannabis sales in a few California beach cities.
More and more states in the U.S. have been decriminalizing cannabis use in the last few decades and introducing policies that legalize cannabis recreational markets. In some places, cannabis companies, working with the support of the local people, are leading movements to speed up the process of marijuana liberalization.
It is gathering signatures from the local people for permission from authorities to open three cannabis shops in the city of Redondo Beach. And the company is planning to start similar initiatives to have cannabis stores opened in El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, and Hermosa Beach.
However, such movements cannot always be a win-win scenario. Hermosa Beach authorities as well as the City Council of Redondo Beach, are planning to issue an ordinance that would thwart the initiative of Catalyst Co. In the view of the authorities, who are organizing a committee of citizens for drafting the ordinance, it is healthier for the bans to be in force.
Elliott Lewis, CEO of Catalyst, does not think so. He is confident that more retail shops will open soon. He is also certain that local people, who are part of the company’s initiative everywhere, want new cannabis stores to be opened.
Catalyst Cannabis Co. started in 2015 and owns 10 dispensaries now. Four of them are in the coastal city of Long Beach. Then there is one dispensary each in Bellflower, Santa Ana, Florence, Pomona, Marina, and El Monte.
Besides Lewis, the main players are his wife and his brother, and also Damian Martin, an attorney by profession. On average, a new store is being opened every year.
Lewis is forthright and does not mince his words. That does make him unpopular with many but he refuses to sugarcoat his words or retract anything he says.
He knows it is not easy to get a cannabis license because liberalization laws are only evolving and there is a lot of opposition to legalization. But he is fully into competing with the authorities. It is like a game for him. He likes the thrill and does not mind the difficulties involved.
He says that he is fully justified in fighting for a license because he is doing it in a straightforward way without underhand dealings. His company has already opened a few dispensaries.
Once he wins a license, he wants to open another store, and after establishing it, try to get a license at a new place. He is amply supported in all his activities by his partner Damian Martin.
According to Lewis, his company has never invested much in their business, and in about 80% of the cases, they have won a license. He sees a lot of unfinished work in front, because, of the 99 cities in Los Angeles County, only about 11 have so far legalized marijuana.
Likewise, just in one of the 34 Orange County cities is cannabis legal. He feels that the company that becomes successful in reversing the marijuana policies in California will have a chance to move to localities outside the state.
The ambiance is egalitarian within Catalyst Cannabis Co., with the salaries of executives being not much higher than that of other employees, who number about 250. As of now, Lewis does not even have a salary.
Though his primary focus is not on money, he is hoping that eventually, once they become successful, he will also be able to make some money. The cannabis companies are going through a period of radical changes, and he feels that it is a journey towards success and permanence.
Though cannabis stocks are not very successful nowadays, cannabis sales through legal markets are expected to cross $30 billion in the year 2022.