What’s Bugging You, Eastern Sierra? – GONE TO POT?!
Are All These Dispensaries Good or Bad for the City of Bishop?
When I first moved here, I was surprised to find two dispensaries not too far from each other (relatively speaking). I mean, they’re literally a thirty second walk from one another. It’s like the Amigos and El Ranchito of weed shops. Only here, when you get a bite to eat, you suddenly find yourself also eating a carton of Ben and Jerry’s Americone Dream, two bags of Funyuns, and binge watching the whole series of Beef on Netflix. Seriously, though, check that one out.
Then they added another one at the north end of town. And now another one smack dab in the middle of downtown main street. Speaking of streets, the word on the street is that some people aren’t too happy with all of the dispensaries coming in. While at Napa Auto Parts this week (shout-out to the friendly staff at Napa), I heard someone say that they had fears that Bishop would soon be known as just a “weed town” if any more come in. I’m not quite sure what a weed town is, but the woman sure didn’t seem too happy about it.
We’ve heard other rumblings and ramblings about all the cannabis shops online and in various Facebook groups, so we decided to reach out to Mayor Jim Ellis to find out if all these stores are good or bad for Bishop.
Here’s what he had to say:
1. How do these dispensaries help and support the local community and economy?
With the passing of Prop 65 in 2016, California citizens opened the door to the legal sales and use of cannabis. The City of Bishop (COB) took our time in allowing licensed dispensaries within the city limits. We waited until some of the wrinkles in the new law were ironed out, and in drafting our ordinance allowing them, took lessons learned from other municipalities. The two dispensaries in Bishop provide revenue to our General Fund (operating budget). In the 1st year of operation, each dispensary pays the COB $12,500/Qtr. In budget year 2024-2025 they will each pay $75,000. And in budget year 2026-2027 they will each pay $100,000. In addition, they will be adding Sales Tax and Measure P Sales Tax revenue to the picture. This influx of fees/taxes to the General Fund allows the COB to continue providing public safety, infrastructure improvements, and other essential operating components to the citizens.
The agreements between the COB and each dispensary also require each to provide $5,000/yr to local health/educational organizations to outline the risks of cannabis use by youth. They also require each dispensary to pay $25,000/yr that will be given to community funding for nonprofits, local youth sports, or other community organizations. Although not required under any agreement, Sundial Bishop gave $10,000 to the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fair this year to help ensure a successful event.
2. How much money do they produce each year?
We don’t have an exact sales number here yet. We were given estimates, but we will have to wait until a full year of operation to see what exact numbers are. As sales data becomes available, it will be used to calculate projected tax revenue into our city budget.
3. Are there more coming? And is there a max that the city of Bishop can have?
The City Council adopted an ordinance (572) amending Title 17, Chapter 17.79 entitled “Marijuana Cultivation and Marijuana Related Businesses,” amending Title 17, Chapter 17.80 entitled “Legal Requirements”, and adding Chapter 5.32 entitled “Commercial Cannabis Activity” which permits for up to two storefront retail cannabis businesses and two non-storefront retail cannabis businesses to operation within City limits.
We have the 2 allowed storefront retail businesses, and currently have no non-storefront retail businesses licensed.
4. Have you had any feedback from the community (positive and negative) regarding this matter?
This question has kind of surprised me. I have not received many questions regarding the dispensaries. I read the social media posts that appear now and then, but overall, very very little feedback has been received by myself or our staff. I cannot speak for other Council Members, but in talking to them, none have relayed any feedback to me.
5. Have you found that these dispensaries have had any negative impact on the city of Bishop?
No, I have not seen or heard any negative impact on the City of Bishop in regards to the dispensaries. I asked about law enforcement interaction, and there has been none so far. The dispensaries currently operating have been very transparent and cooperative with our police department to ensure that operations are legal and following best practices for all involved. If anything, the positives should be highlighted. There are a number of local citizens employed by Sundial Bishop, and Ascent has committed to hiring locals when they open for business in the near future. Both locations have enhanced empty storefronts and adjacent areas. And both are committed to maintaining their location’s aesthetics.
We also reached out to the staff at PALS, a local dispensary. Here is what manager Amanda Estrada told us:
“Since we started in 2014, Pals has maintained a high level of dedication to providing safe and reliable access to cannabis. Serving our clients the best available quality at affordable prices has always been at the heart of what we do.
Initially a medical cannabis shop, we have worked hard to become a knowledgeable and reliable source for quality products. As the first shop of its kind in the area, we’ve always wanted to set a good and respectful standard. Our shop has also been honored to support and donate to many different organizations and causes such as the VFW, The Rotary Club, Shop-with-a Cop, The Bishop Paiute Tribe, Pow Wow, Bishop Elementary School: Harvest Hoedown, and several other community groups and events.”
After speaking with PALS, we spoke with the founder of Sundial, another local dispensary, named Laythen Martines.
“I grew up here and the only reason I opened this is because I am from Bishop. We went into a vacant building, the La Casita building, which has been vacant for a very long time. As far as we know, we have invested more money into this particular building than anyone has invested into any building downtown, ever. We put more money into the building than we paid for it.
We will of course pay taxes, more than any other business, because of the cannabis tax, which we pay through a development agreement.
This agreement not only has fees for us, but also requires us to pay $25,000 per year to local nonprofits. This year so far, we have already fulfilled most of that commitment.
We have also donated a considerable amount of money to the Tri County Fair (as stated above), and we have a commitment to donate $10,00 to BUHS’ basketball team, and $5,000 to youth football this year.
As I stated, I grew up in Bishop, and I would love to give back to the community that has given so much to me.”
According to the mayor, it looks like these dispensaries may have a positive impact on our community through tax dollars, donations, and other ways.
What do YOU think about having four, and possibly more, dispensaries in town after reading this article? Good, bad, indifferent? Let us know in the comments below!
A special thank you to Mayor Jim Ellis, PALS Dispensary, and Sundial!
Questions courtesy of