Cannabis

Sonora’s only operating cannabis dispensary is planning to begin recreational adult-use sales this week followed by a move to a new location in June, while a second shop is moving forward with plans to open sometime in the near future.

Hazy Bulldog Farms at 1243 Mono Way, the city’s only cannabis dispensary currently operating, was approved by the Sonora Planning Commission on Monday night to move into a building a couple of doors down at 1201 Mono Way.

The commission also approved a use permit for a future dispensary currently dubbed as the Bract House to operate out of a building at 10 Calaveras St. near the former Tuolumne General Hospital that previously operated as a machine shop and foundry in the early 1900s.

Raphael “Ralph” Calderon, of Valley Springs, is part of the Bract House LLC that’s behind the future dispensary. He moved to the area in 2014 from Florida and owns several cannabis businesses in Calaveras County and Northern California.

Kim Campbell, community development specialist for the city, said the commission was unanimous in approving Hazy Bulldog’s relocation, but voted 4-1 to approve the Bract House’s plans. She said Commissioner Peter Ghiorso was the only one opposed.

Jeff Muzio, owner of Hazy Bulldog Farms, said on Thursday in a telephone interview that he hopes to have his dispensary operating out of the new, larger building at 1201 Mono Way by mid-June.

Muzio also said he plans to begin recreational sales to adults 21 and older on Tuesday, which falls on April 20, a date celebrated each year as a holiday in cannabis culture. 

Since the dispensary opened its doors in January 2019, it has only been allowed to sell cannabis to people with a doctor’s recommendation as part of a three-year pilot program adopted by the Sonora City Council in 2018.

The program allowed for up to two medical-only dispensaries in the city limits, with restrictions on how far they must be located away from sensitive areas such as schools, daycares, parks and churches.

Late last year, the council approved changing the rules of the program to allow for recreational sales at up to three cannabis dispensaries within the city.

Part of the program requires dispensary owners to pay the city $10,000 per month, or 5% of gross sales if they exceed that amount, as part of a public benefit fee to mitigate impacts caused by the businesses.

The city is anticipating approximately $300,000 in revenue per year between Hazy Bulldog Farms and the Bract House when it opens to help support its General Fund budget, which is typically about $5 million a year.

At a recent meeting, the council was unable to agree on how much of the revenues should be set aside for educational programs aimed at discouraging youth from drugs

Muzio said he was pleasantly surprised at the unanimous approval for his relocation, as he’s typically met with at least some opposition. He currently employs nine people through his shop, one of which is currently looking to purchase a home in the area.

“That feels really good to have an economic opportunity for people in the area that translates into buying a home and hopefully helping the local economy,” he said.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.net or (209) 768-5175.

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