By Heidi Simmons
From seed to sale, the business of marijuana has been welcomed into the Coachella Valley and embraced by a majority of the nine cities. While many California ganjapreneurs have been weeded out of the cannabis industry due to legal restrictions, expensive licensing or cost ineffectiveness, there are those who are steadfast in their commitment to make a mark in the world of cannabis commerce.
“We have an exciting business model that allows us to grow and sell our own products under one roof,” said Kenneth Churchill, CEO and Co-Founder of West Coast Cannabis Club. “The microbusiness license gives us the ability to manage quality, lower our prices, keep the tax revenue local, and serve the community.”
Friday, February 14, 2020, the West Coast Cannabis Club opens its 31,428 square feet main office and headquarters, which also encompasses a dispensary, cultivation, manufacturing, event space, and distribution center.
Set on 1.51 acres on Melanie Place in Palm Desert, the rambling two-story building once housed the KESQ television station studios. Now, the old building and grounds have been completely remodeled into a welcoming, modern space that not only serves as a professional and accessible business, but also a hip and sexy destination.
West Coast Cannabis Club (WCCC) already has two successful dispensaries: one in Cathedral City on Ramon Road, west of Date Palm, and the other in Palm Desert off Highway 111 at Deep Canyon Road. The Cathedral City location originally opened as medicinal only in 2016. The Palm Desert store has been in operation just over a year. All three dispensaries offer medicinal and “recreational” cannabis.
“We started with retail and this next step makes sense for us. It’s just easier,” said Churchill, about the microbusiness license. “If we cultivate and manufacture our own cannabis, we already have three stores to sell our products.”
WCCC’s Melanie location is already functioning as the company’s main distribution center. Vans bring in products from different cannabis companies, which are checked for proper licensing, testing and matching codes then divided between WCCC’s three retail stores. They run a home delivery service from the new location as well.
Besides staff offices and boardrooms, the company’s new home base also incudes a large kitchen to produce edibles, wax, oil and hash. Room-size walk-in coolers provide for cold storage.
There is designated space for trimming, rolling and packaging. On the cultivation side there are cloning, vegetating and flower rooms that add up to 5,000 square feet. The in-house dispensary is 2,000 square feet of clean well-lighted retail space. The waiting/check-in room has a fun photo booth for visitors.
“The microbusiness license allows distribution, level one manufacturing, retail and indoor cultivation less than 10,000 square feet all in one building,” said Churchill. “It’s all non-volatile extraction. This is a business strategy that really works for us and will move us into a more dynamic future.”
California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control issues microbusiness licenses as determined by local governance. Licensees are required to comply with all rules and regulations adopted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Department of Public Health.
A third party company is required to test the WCCC cannabis off the premises to insure product integrity.
“I can walk customers over to the plant, show them where it was turned into concentrate and take them to the retail store where they can buy it and take it home,” said Churchill. “What makes this facility unique is this beautiful building and its manicured grounds. It’s not tucked back in a dark, non-descript industrial complex. This is a place where people can come to our retail store and feel comfortable and safe.”
Churchill estimates that 60 percent of WCCC’s business is medical use cannabis and the majority of their clientele are 55 years and older. Churchill has always used marijuana recreationally and has seen first-hand the amazing benefits of medicinal use cannabis. Churchill welcomes everyone into the West Coast Cannabis “Club.”
The WCCC property promises to be more than just a business for business sake.
The second story event space is approximately 2,000 square feet and has south facing, large, picture windows with gorgeous mountain and city views. It overlooks the main entrance and spacious parking lot. The property has ample parking behind gates as well as on the street.
The steps to the front of the building lead to a raised patio that is a perfect venue for outdoor entertainment and concerts.
The main parking lot, which is partially covered, can be closed off and converted to temporary cabanas for private events or large parties. Colorful lighting accentuates the grounds and building creating a cool and relaxed vibe at night.
So far, the City of Palm Desert has offered only one microbusiness license, three cultivation and six dispensary opportunities.
WCCC has a twenty-year lease on the property. It has taken two years to get the facility up and running. The microbusiness has been funded by the Cathedral City and Palm Desert WCCC dispensaries, friends and family.
“We put in six applications with the city,” said Churchill. “We won two. The micro license and the license for our dispensary on Highway 111. The city has been great. They treat us the same as any other business making sure everything is done right.”
When all is up and running, WCCC will have 125 to 175 employees including the 60 who staff the other two dispensaries.
Alona Wilde works at WCCC’s Palm Desert dispensary. After a customer checks in, she guides them through the store asking how she can help, while showing the different products neatly organized and clearly displayed. She has a bright and friendly smile, her hair is the color of flames and other employees refer to her as “Yoda” because of her wisdom.
“This is one of the most aboveboard places that I’ve ever worked,” said Wilde. “They advocate for employees. They promote from within. They provide well-rounded training. It’s a diverse group of people with all kinds of backgrounds and expertise. All of us work together and consult to make sure questions get answered.”
Wilde is excited about the new building and its possibilities.
“They have worked hard and have figured out the procedures and policies. It’s a great step and a natural progression,” Wilde said.
With the microbusiness in place, Churchill and his partners plan to start off with in-house products, and then slowly expand to other locations throughout California.
WCCC will continue to carry all the popular brands at their dispensaries to best serve their clientele who enjoy a wide variety of products.
“This new space has allowed us to come in here and really build WCCC into something,” said Churchill. “Being at this location helps us focus locally. Growing, manufacturing, distributing and selling here lets us control the entire supply chain.
By doing this under one roof, we can get product to our customers for a far better price. The purpose of this building is to make our bestsellers and make them cheaper. We want to further create a more cohesive community and contribute any way we can to enhancing the good things that are happening here in the Coachella Valley.”
West Coast Cannabis Club is located at 42650 Melanie Place, Palm Desert. The location’s dispensary soft opening is Friday, February 14, 2020. The grand opening will be held in March. For more information regarding WCCC, check their website www.westcoastcannabis.club or call (760) 656-0865.