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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Sycuan Tribe Expands Business Model to Cannabis-Cafe Joint Venture in National City

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Last May, National City became the first municipality in the county—where medical marijuana dispensaries and retail sales are dotted—to approve marijuana parlors for consumption of the drug.

In a unanimous vote last week, the city voted to approve three agreements to develop the cannabis trade, including a request from Sessions By the Bay to open the weed parlor, which will be located in The city’s tourist business district On property owned by the Sycuan tribe.

The closed UC San Diego campus where Sessions By the Bay is scheduled to open at the end of 2023. Image via Google Street

Pedro Garcia, National City Economic Development Director, PSYD Thursday that the Gulf sessions were fully approved by the city and that the owners can proceed with the building permit process.

On Monday, Adam Day, who is the chief administrative official in the Sichuan tribal government, confirmed to NBC 7 that a tribal-controlled financial entity, the Sycuan Tribal Development Corporation, and Sessions By the Bay were involved in the project. This entity owns and controls most of the city block in which Sessions is located, which Adams referred to as a joint venture, including the building in which Sessions will be located, as well as the nearby Best Western Hotel and the adjacent Kimball Coastal Eatery. To the Cannabis Cafe website.

Our partnership to operate a cannabis lounge and retail store on our property in National City has been unanimously approved by the City Council, said Josh Moses, President of Syquan Tribal Development Corporation (STDC). Send to NBC 7.

Sessions By the Bay’s Alex Ayon, a San Diego native who still lives in the city, told NBC 7 that he was “very excited about — the fun stuff: design and construction.” He said the project schedule calls for a December 2023 opening of a two-story, approximately 16,000-square-foot auditorium at 700 Bay Marina Drive, the former site of the College of California, San Diego.

The location in National City is where Sessions By the Bay will be located. Image via Google Street

It’s not yet known what the maximum capacity of the lounge will be, though there are 130 parking spaces at the cafe’s location, which is located off Interstate 5 at the Mile of Cars Way exit — close enough for a visible sign of the freeway Alex thinks Kimball Coastal will provide the food. For Sessions By the Bay clients but there are currently no plans to collaborate with the hotel.

Alex also confirmed to NBC 7 that Sessions By the Bay has partnered with Sycuan – which also owns the American Grant Hotel; Solamar Hotel, in Gaslamp; the Singing Hills Golf Resort in El Cajon; Plus their casino resort in El Cajon – and signed a lease with SDTC.

“This property just happens to be on the Kumiai land,” Alex said. “The War on Drugs has negatively impacted communities of color disproportionately, and that includes Native American communities, so it’s great to have Sycuan leadership and involvement in this industry.”

Sessions By the Bay was the only applicant for a lounge licence.

National City became the first in the county to approve lounges for drug consumption. NBC 7’s Amber Frias has more.

Gulf Sessions

Alex told NBC7 earlier this year that he will be directing Sessions By the Bay with his wife, Pearl Ion.

“In this business, there aren’t a lot of female owners, especially Latina owners,” Alex said, adding that his wife’s family is Mexican, and that his wife is from Colombia and Brazil. “We were both born here. She’s from the first generation.”

Alex, 39, has been in the cannabis industry since 2009 and owned a dispensary in San Diego in the past.

Pearl Eon and Alex [Ayon] As SDTC’s Muse said in the statement sent to NBC 7. “They have over 10 years of experience in the cannabis industry and are viewed as thought leaders and operators with integrity.” an act. Together with their team, we will make Sessions By the Bay a leader across this region and beyond in the thriving legal cannabis market.”

He previously worked in the mortgage sector. He said the lounge’s name, “By the Bay Sessions,” referred to a social “smoking” session. He said alcoholic beverages would not be available at Sessions by the Bay. Alex believes that a cannabis café could employ up to 100 people by the time it opens

National City has concerns, of course, that all cannabis companies — two others were also approved in Tuesday night’s vote — will operate in a way that protects the health and safety of the public and generate tax revenue for the city to support them. general fund.

While the couple has spent over six figures on the project so far, they still have a long financial way to go.

“All in all, we envision it will be a $4 million project,” Alex said in July. To open it up, this includes tenant improvements, including investment in marketing and inventory, and there is significant investment in the workforce – training and staffing. We intend to employ at least a majority – at least 60% of our workforce – from National City, National City residents.”

As part of their Phase 2 application, National City wanted to see what value businesses can bring to society besides running a business well, Alex told NBC 7.

“We plan to work with a lot of National City nonprofits and community goodwill organizations,” Alex said, adding that “a percentage of our profits will be reinvested back into the community, especially for youth programs, substance abuse programs and a few others.”

National city marijuana system

Approval of the South Bay city ordinance, which also allows retail, came last year after six people spoke out in opposition during a city council meeting’s public comment period. In the end, the Council approved Ordinance 2021 by a vote of 4 to 1, with Councilman Ron Morrison in the minority. He had put forward a motion to go ahead with the other elements of the ordinance but rezoned the parlors to bring them in line with other businesses.

“This is an opportunity to help bring in new business but also to think creatively,” National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo Solís said last year.

Cannabis lounges can only open in National City Tourist business districtIt is a small, irregularly shaped area west of Interstate 5, south of Marina Drive Bay, east of Tidelands Street and in the area around the marina.

Currently, the area is mostly occupied by parking lots and industrial buildings. According to the ordinance: “‘consumption parlor’ means the area that is part of the premises of a state-licensed and locally authorized commercial cannabis retail company.” At this point, this doesn’t seem to offer much of a choice for locations.

“What it looks like is: When someone walks in, they have an employee who walks them through the product or the level or the density, whether it’s an edible product or some other type of product, they’ll have the opportunity to consume it,” Sotelo-Solís said.

Not surprisingly, the city has a lot to say about the details of the lounges, namely:

  • Alcohol and tobacco consumption is prohibited in the lounges
  • Beneficiaries must be 21 years of age or older
  • Cannabis consumption cannot be seen from outside the lounge
  • No BYOC – Patrons must purchase cannabis on site
  • Lounges can sell food
  • The security guard must work during business hours
  • Permit approval is based on the Anti-Drug Command Plan.

Chula Vista closed dozens of illegal marijuana dispensaries but on 4/20, they welcomed their first legal dispensary. Joe Little of NBC 7 was in attendance at the opening ceremony.

The National City ordinance went into effect on June 3, 2021, 30 days after it was passed.

When Sessions By the Bay opens in National City, it will be a first in the county, but not in the state. Weed bars are already open in Los Angeles and other cities, too.

At the federal level, marijuana is still a Schedule I controlled substance. Cannabis is legal for recreational use in 15 states and the nation’s capital, while medical marijuana is legal in thirty states.


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