EL CENTRO – A Heber-based cannabis dispensary and lounge, whose business name is “The Other Guys,” won their appeal against Imperial County to have their storefront and lounge in the same room, clarifying the county ordinances on cannabis lounges.

Conflict came from and interpretation of a county ordinance that says all on-site cannabis use must happen in a private smoking room or cannabis consumption lounge. Imperial County Planning and Development Services Director Jim Minnick took that ordinance to mean that the lounge must be separated from the retail space.

Tim Wright, CEO for The Other Guys, argued that because the city ordinance did not specify the retail space had to be separate there was nothing unlawful about placing it within the lounge so long as they had a lobby that was smoke free.

The two men debated their arguments before the Imperial County Board of Supervisors and dozens of The Other Guys supporters on Tuesday, March 21 at a supervisors meeting, causing a 3-2 split in the vote, with The Other Guys narrowly coming out on top.

“We have debated this long enough,” Imperial County District 1 Supervisor Jesus Escobar said. “It’s not that different from a bar, let’s treat it as such.”

Escobar’s assertion was not so far off from the description provided by Wright of his lounge facility. The Other Guys have an airtight, smoke free lobby where customers come in, sign a consent form before entering the lounge, sit down and are served cannabis while enjoying a show or playing games.

Wright said The Other Guys placed a temporary wall place to comply with Minnick’s interpretation, but they said they saw their sales drop in the retail by more than 60% as a result.

Wright said this caused the loss of jobs within the facility, with their staff being reduced from 42 staff members down to only 12.

The supervisors who argued for keeping the retail and lounge separated, specifically District 2 Supervisor Luis Plancarte and District 5 Supervisor John Hawk, said that patrons who would like to go into to purchase non-smoking products should be allowed to purchase their products without being exposed to the smoke.

After confirming that patrons have the option of delivery or curbside pickup, along with having the option of going to other nearby dispensaries, the remaining supervisors voted to allow the two spaces to be combined once again.

This new interpretation will not only affect The Other Guys, but any future dispensaries developed who might want to include a lounge area in Imperial County.

“So to be clear, the retail space and lounge space can be together as long as they in a private space, Minnick said.

“Any dispensary with a retail area that you can just walk into will not be able to open a lounge in the same room,” he said.

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