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Unlike many Central Coast communities, Lompoc embraces cannabis industry

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Downtown Lompoc

The Lompoc Valley Cannabis Association (LVCA) is gearing up to host its first “CannaBrew,”  a social mixer for those involved in the area’s cannabis industry. Organizers hope Wednesday’s networking event will serve as another step in turning Lompoc into a cannabis destination.

Joe Garcia is cofounder of the LVCA, which he said just received 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and is comprised of about 130 members from across the industry.

“One thing to note is that cannabis has been in Santa Barbara County underground for many, many years,” Garcia said by phone.

Garcia credited Santa Barbara County with streamlining cannabis operations that were already underway in 2016, when California voters passed Prop. 64, legalizing recreational cannabis.

“Santa Barbara County is the number one county in the state of California for cultivation licences,” Garcia said. “And you add that up with the attitude that Lompoc has: Lompoc is setting itself up to be a hub for cannabis.”

Three brick-and-mortar retail shops are now open in Lompoc. And 24 more commercial licenses have been approved or are pending. Garcia said the city is setting itself up to have cannabis grown, processed and sold in Lompoc.

“Lompoc is a free market,” Garcia said. “There is no limit on the number of business which may be coming to Lompoc. The only limitation is the limitation on physical buildings that are available.”

Garcia thinks the industry could bring 500 to 1000 jobs to the area, which could help a city with a slew of financial woes. Lompoc officials just had to slice $3 million dollars off the city’s biennial budget. Garcia hopes his networking event will play a role in building successful businesses in the community

“I believe we should be building bridges to these companies,” Garcia said. “I know there is going to be some fierce competition that’s going to be happening in Lompoc. I think that’s going to be a good thing.”

In case you are wondering, Wednesday night’s mixer at Lompoc bar Hanger 7 will just have the usual alcohol and food fare—no cannabis products. Public consumption isn’t allowed there yet, but Garcia expects that will change soon.

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