The operators of a proposed cannabis business that initially had been rejected by the city of Martinez, and who later successfully appealed that rejection to the Martinez City Council, can now formally apply for a permit to establish a cannabis business they hope will one day evolve into manufacturing.

The City Council’s approval last week is a key step in what has been a longer journey than anticipated for the owners of Opposite Coast LLC, who first submitted a proposal in June 2019 for a 10,000-square-foot cannabis manufacturing business at 4808 Sunrise Drive, in a light-industrial area on Martinez’s east edge.

Plans are for Opposite Coast’s operation to be in the same building as what was originally to be called Firefly (now the Velvet retail cannabis store) already operated by Opposite Coast’s owners. The Yerba Buena Logistics cannabis distribution and non-storefront retail business is also based in that same building.

This past January, OC’s owners proposed changing their business from a manufacturing business to a cannabis product labeling and packaging business, asserting that manufacturing was not financially viable at that point. City staff initially rejected OC’s proposal, based on a set scoring system.

OC’s owners appealed that rejection to the City Council, which on July 29 upheld OC’s appeal. The council required OC to return with a modified proposal that specifically wouldn’t include manufacturing; OC followed through on that. The commercial cannabis operator’s permit OC can now request would be for a manufacturing business, however, even though manufacturing will not be part of its inaugural operations.

Martinez, among Contra Costa County cities, has been an early embracer of commercial cannabis. Firefly first applied in September 2017 to operate its retail shop, which opened under the Velvet name this May.

In January 2020, the City Council approved its second, and final, retail storefront permit to Embarc, partly owned by the family of retired Congressman George Miller. But its proposed location, at the former California Collectible Books store on Alhambra Avenue two and a half blocks from Alhambra High School, drew harsh criticism from school district officials and members of the general public.

In December 2019, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors selected four prospective operators of retail cannabis dispensaries in the county; one of them proposes opening a store on North Pacheco Boulevard just outside Martinez city limits. The others would be in El Sobrante, Pacheco and Bay Point.