SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sacramento's growing marijuana industry is about to get even bigger.
On Thursday, city leaders announced the finalists for ten new pot shop permits. The demand for these licenses is huge and big money is at stake.
Maisha Bahati just learned she is among the ten budding businesspeople selected for the City of Sacramento's new cannabis permits.
"It was insane. We were so excited, we had gone out and bought champagne last night just in case," Bahati said.
More than 100 people applied for the coveted licenses, which would allow them to open a marijuana storefront dispensary.
"They gross anywhere from 4 to 8 million dollars a year," said Davina Smith, the Sacramento City Cannabis Director.
Sacramento currently only allows 30 cannabis shops – and none are black-owned. These ten new licenses are an effort to diversify the marketplace. Applicants were judged not only on their business plans but on their personal stories.
"The drug war impacted me in some profound ways," said Malaki Seku Amen, a cannabis business applicant.
He says his father was a casualty of marijuana criminalization.
"He was working to prevent the violence caused by the drug war and he was shot and killed," Seku Amen said.
And others who were selected have been on the wrong side of the law in the past. But these ten lucky finalists still have a lot of work to do.
"They're celebrating tonight but the work starts tomorrow because they have to go through every step of the permitting process that anyone else would," Smith said, and later added, "people could be opening in six months. It could take others two years."
Many hope the new infusion of income will benefit Sacramento's economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.
"We're going to pull from our community, we're going to hire women, it's just going to be a diverse business, something that's different from what's out there now," Seku Amen said.
Sacramento places a 4% tax on all cannabis products sold in the city. That's expected to generate about 17 million dollars this year.
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