“(City Council members) want to understand the ramifications from both sides before they make a decision,” Argabrite said. “I think this will give them a lot of the information they are going to need.”
HdL has worked with other cities in the county, including Thousand Oaks, Ventura and Port Hueneme.
Melissa Hurtado, revenue operations manager for Thousand Oaks, said the city hired the consultants at HdL initially to advise on its ordinance that limits to one each for a medical marijuana dispensary and a cannabis testing facility.
The initial contract was for $30,000. An amendment was later added to the contract for a total cost of no more than $85,000.
“We did it for several years, anticipating that we would go forward utilizing them for other things than just crafting the ordinance,” Hurtado said.
HdL is working with city staff on the selection process for the single dispensary and testing facility allowed under the ordinance. It is also advising on a ballot measure the council is considering on taxing cannabis.
“They have seen what works and seen what didn’t work,” Hurtado said. “They have been in the game for a long time.”
When Thousand Oaks was in the same point that Simi Valley is now of determining a direction to take when it comes to cannabis, the more the council was educated and the individual council members’ concerns were addressed, the better it was for the city.
“When they made their decision to do something, it made for an informed decision versus the industry driving the conversation and not knowing their unique situation,” McPherson said.