“Community benefit” money paid by operators of cannabis businesses in Contra Costa County should go to the specific communities in which those businesses are expected to begin operating in the near future, county supervisors said Tuesday.

The Board of Supervisors did not go into deep detail on how those community benefit funds would be divvied up, but they said the specific expenditures would have to be approved by the board.

In December 2019, the supervisors chose four businesses to apply for storefront retail cannabis operations, and seven more to apply for land use permits for commercial cannabis cultivation.

Six of those proposals, including all four of the prospective storefront operations, included proposed financial “community benefit” contributions, in part to help compensate for potential problems created by their presence there.

If each of those six operators ultimately opens for business, after several years, the total annual amount of community benefit money to be received by the county could be as high as $650,000 a year, above and beyond revenue the $2 million to $4 million the county would get from its cannabis business tax, sales tax and other sources.

The four cannabis dispensaries in question would be in El Sobrante, Bay Point, Pacheco and unincorporated Martinez. Most of the seven cultivation businesses would be in East County.

The first community benefit payment is not expected to be submitted to the county until 2022 at the earliest.

Supervisor Diane Burgis said some areas, including her East County district, have been affected by illegal marijuana grows that, at times, have been accompanied by violent crimes. The community benefit money could help offset those effects, she said.

Added Supervisor John Gioia, “I think there’s an expectation that communities closest to the (cannabis) facilities will see some direct benefits. It is clear that the closer you are to these facilities, the more impact there is.”