CA: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries And Cannabis Business License Tax On City Council Agenda

Photo Credit: Larry Mayer

The chances of medical marijuana dispensaries coming to Fresno, are getting higher. City leaders say it’s possible each council district could get a medical pot shot. Manufacturing facilities to cultivate cannabis are also on the table. But a group of local pastors are saying no to marijuana.

The City is working with a consultant on how to best regulated medical marijuana and there’s also talk of imposing a cannabis business license tax. Many pastors want the pot talk shut down.

Recreational pot shops are banned in the City of Fresno but when it comes to whether medicinal marijuana dispensaries should be open, the haze is starting to clear. City leaders are discussing the possibility of at least one dispensary in each district as well as manufacturing centers to cultivate and package pot.

“It would just add to the availability of marijuana. Because the street market is not gonna go away just because you have a dispensary down the street,” said Pastor B.T. Lewis with Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church.

Pastor Lewis says there are several pastors on his side. Councilman Clint Olivier says voting yes on a cannabis business license tax could result in $5 million in projected revenue. Ten percent would go to a community benefit fund and 90 percent to the City’s General Fund, fueling services like police, fire, roads and parks.

“This isn’t about greed. This isn’t about putting money in the general fund. What this is about is rolling out a program to offer cannabis patients a place to go,” said Olivier.

Reverend Ara Guekguezian says he’s a chaplain for many who are dying. He supports the medicinal use of cannabis.

“You know we have a lot of people who have chronic pain and illness issues that cannabis is the best option,” said Guekguezian.

Councilman Garry Bredefeld is a longtime opponent of marijuana’s legalization. He says it’s clear the City wants to get ino the pot business.

“My district strongly opposed Prop 64. Didn’t want to pass the law that made it legal and yet that very well may happen by a majority of the council,” said Bredefeld.

A debate Pastor Lewis calls a moral issue.

“All money is not good money,” said Pastor Lewis.

On Thursday, City Council will hold a workshop to discuss regulation and then vote on putting the marijuana business license tax on the November ballot.