OCEANSIDE — The city has approved two new retail cannabis shop licenses and will also allow MedLeaf, the city’s only licensed cannabis delivery service, a chance to convert to a storefront operation.
The news is a huge relief for MedLeaf owners Karen and George Hannawi, who were “elated” after hearing the council’s decision to let their business convert to a brick-and-mortar shop separate from the lottery.
The couple, who have operated their cannabis delivery business in Oceanside since 2020, said they would be wiped out if forced to compete with storefronts in Oceanside and Vista.
“George and my whole team here at MedLeaf are just over the moon,” Hannawi told The Coast News. “I look forward to many more years here in Oceanside and working closely hand-in-hand with the city to provide for the city of Oceanside.”
Before the council’s decision, the city only permitted two licenses for delivery-only retail cannabis businesses, including the business run by MedLeaf. The city also has a licensed cannabis manufacturer, distributor and two cultivators.
Earlier this year, the Oceanside City Council directed staff to recommend allowing two retail cannabis shops.
Staff returned on Nov. 1 and recommended applicants be chosen randomly via lottery for the two licenses, with no preference for MedLeaf to convert its existing delivery-only permit to avoid potential legal action.
City staff developed the final recommendations using best practices from neighboring cities like Vista and Encinitas. The recommendations were made without help from a cannabis consulting firm after HdL terminated its contract over the summer.
MedLeaf owners have been pushing the city to allow storefront dispensaries due to stiff competition with neighboring Vista, home to 11 cannabis shops plus delivery service providers.
Dozens of MedLeaf employees and others with ties to the local cannabis industry also encouraged giving preference to MedLeaf.
Once chosen, the council ultimately directed staff to work with the new consulting firm to develop a weighted lottery and allow MedLeaf to convert its license.
Cannabis dispensaries will only be allowed in general industrial and special commercial areas within the Oceanside Boulevard and Mission Avenue corridors, excluding the Historic Overlay District on Mission Avenue near Mission San Luis Rey.