Pubdate: Thu, 31 Aug 2017
Source: Fresno Bee, The (CA)
Copyright: 2017 The Fresno Bee
Note: Does not publish letters from outside their circulation area.
Author: Tim Sheehan


When it comes to buying pot for pleasure, Fresno won't be on the
recreational map

Retail marijuana dispensaries and other businesses related to
recreational use of marijuana will be barred from setting up shop in
Fresno after the City Council voted 4-3 Thursday to prohibit such

Proposition 64, approved by California voters in November 2016,
legalized the possession and recreational use of marijuana. It also
legalized the sale of marijuana for recreational use starting Jan. 1,
2018 -- but gave cities and counties the authority to regulate or
prohibit commercial cannabis operations in their jurisdictions.

Thursday's vote is the latest step in efforts backed by District 6
Councilman Garry Bredefeld and Mayor Lee Brand to quash the
possibility of dispensaries before the start of 2018, when the state
plans to start licensing dispensaries for non-medical marijuana to
operate in the state.

Council members Bredefeld, Steve Brandau, Paul Caprioglio and Luis
Chavez voted for the commercial prohibition, while Council President
Clint Olivier and council members Esmeralda Soria and Oliver Baines
voted no. The vote was identical to an initial vote June 22 to begin
the process of amending the Fresno Municipal Code.

This was officially the first reading of the ban. The code amendment
still must return to the City Council for a second reading and final
approval, most likely at the council's next meeting Sept. 21.

A second package of Fresno's proposed cannabis regulations is awaiting
final approval after the first vote in June. That ordinance would cap
at six the number of plants that can be cultivated for personal use,
in addition to regulating where and how marijuana can be grown by
private residents. A second reading of that ordinance has been beset
by delays and by political wrangling among council members.

Prior to the Thursday's vote on the ban, the council approved a
proposal by Olivier to seek a consultant to help the city study issues
related to marijuana and Proposition 64. Issues include other cities
are dealing with medicinal and recreational cannabis use, sales and
cultivation, and the potential for revenue from licensing and taxing
cultivation, sales.

Soria, Baines and Caprioglio voted for Olivier's measure, which calls
for the mayor to appoint a three-member council subcommittee to steer
the consultant-selection process. Bredefeld and Brandau voted against
the proposal.

Brand gave his mayoral support to Olivier. "We disagree on a ban,"
Brand said Thursday, "but he's asking for a consultant. This is not a
question of whether you're for or against a ban. aE& I think we need
to examine a lot of areas that we simply don't have answers for."

"This is a huge issue across the state, (and) billions of dollars are
being spent," Brand added. "We need to at least take a look and see
what the implications are."

Olivier said he believes a consultant is necessary to so the council
can avoid voting for a dispensary ban based on "fiction."

"There is legislation before this body that is based on panic and one
guy's fear," Olivier said of Bredefeld's ban. "A consultant would have
helped us on this and would have drafted a better piece of legislation
than what we have right now."

The medical use of marijuana has been allowed in California since
1996, when voters approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act.
But prior to Proposition 64, recreational use of pot remained
outlawed. Notwithstanding the two ballot measures, marijuana remains
illegal under federal law.
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