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With Council Poised to OK Recreational Cannabis, What Will Mayor Do?

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With the Fresno City Council slated to pass regulations for the cannabis business on Thursday (Dec. 13), Mayor Lee Brand remains against allowing recreational shops in the city.
After an initial debate last week, the council will vote to adopt regulations allowing multiple aspects of the marijuana business in the city. The plan is to allow seven medicinal-only retail businesses in the first year, then seven more the second year, which could be medicinal or recreational.


“My position has not changed as far as recreational marijuana. I’m opposed to recreational marijuana dispensaries.”Fresno Mayor Lee Brand
During the debate, Councilman Garry Bredefeld called out Brand.
“I expect him to take a lead on this and I expect him to follow through on his pledge that recreational dispensaries is something he is opposed to, doesn’t support and shouldn’t be happening,” Bredefeld said.
GV Wire asked Brand to respond.
“My position has not changed as far as recreational marijuana. I’m opposed to recreational marijuana dispensaries,” the mayor said.
The item is on the consent calendar, meaning the council may take a vote on it without further discussion.

Revised Regulations

In the newly released 53 pages of regulations, retail shops would be restricted to two per council district. They must be in pre-zoned areas (mainly along business corridors) and 800 feet away from schools, day care centers, youth centers, and other retail shops. Other sensitive locations, such as churches or rehab centers, are not included in the restrictions. Operating hours would be 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The regulations also cover where cultivators, distributors, manufacturers, and testers can locate. The city would allow a total of 16 such businesses with no limit on how many in each category.
Those types of businesses would be restricted to areas called Cannabis Innovation Hubs, a half-mile to mile strip along Highway 99 and Highway 180 west of Highway 99.
Regulations also mandate many other aspects including security measures, who can and cannot work for a cannabis business, and specific details such as providing neighbors a contact to lodge complaints.

Veto Possibility?

Brand would not speculate if he would issue a veto if the council approves recreational retail shops.

“I’ll deal with it when it comes across my desk, but my position has not changed,” Brand said.
According to the city clerk’s office, Brand has not issued a veto since taking office in Jan. 2017.
Five council votes are needed to override a veto. If things get to that point, it would be a different council than the one that will vote at Thursday’s meeting, the last scheduled for the year.
Miguel Arias and Nelson Esparza replace Oliver Baines and Clint Olivier, respectively, on Jan. 8.
Baines and Olivier, along with Paul Caprioglio, wrote the regulations. Luis Chavez suggested a compromise last week delaying recreational store licensing for a year.
Bredefeld and Steve Brandau expressed reservation of anything other than medicinal retail outlets.
During the debate, Esmeralda Soria pushed for shortening the Highway 99 buffer zone, which is reflected in the revised regulations. The reduced buffer zone applies to the highway between Shaw and Clinton avenues.

Who Gets Licenses?

As written, the regulations give leeway to the city manager, Wilma Quan-Schecter, to determine the license-issuing procedure. It calls for the city manager “to provide detailed objective review criteria to be evaluated on a point system or equivalent quantitative evaluation scale tied to each set of review criteria.”
Yet, the guidelines offer few specifics of what the city manager should look for. There is a social equity component to the application, but regulations don’t go into detail of what that may entail.
The city manager has final authority on issuing licenses, but decisions can be appealed to a hearing officer.
Permits to operate are good for one year.

Unanswered Questions

The regulations do not provide guidance on how the measure would be enforced. Nor is there any specification on if there will be an application fee and how much it would be.
Business license tax rates will be $6 per square foot for cultivation, 4% for manufacturing and retail, 1% for distribution,and none for testing. All are based on gross receipts.
These are different from sales taxes.
While the state establishes regulations to allow cannabis deliveries, regardless of where the service originates from and licensed, sales tax is calculated at the customer’s location.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email