COALINGA, Calif. (KFSN) --A Fresno County town is considering tapping into the medical marijuana business. City council members in Coalinga believe there is money to be made through regulation and the idea has residents divided.
On Thursday, there was a heated discussion at City Hall, "We need to control this because we can't stop it," one resident said.
The city council has been weighing the options of regulation and the benefits of generating revenue to save the small town from debt. Council member Nathan Vosburg said, "This isn't gonna cost us money. This is a money generator, we're $3 Million in the hole."
Many called the idea a golden ticket-- a chance to mine the 'Green Gold Rush' but not everyone was sold on it. In fact, there was strong opposition. One man said, "God bless the people who are sick but don't shove this down our throats."
"A tiny town with a little bit of cops...let's not make things worse...postpone any action," another resident said.
Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims also showed up to give her opinion, "For many years I've said, it's not about the medicine it's about the money and I think that point has been proven tonight."
When the meeting started, a motion was already on the table to slow things down. The response from the community was bigger than expected and state law was recently amended to give cities and counties more time to opt in or out of the business.
In the end, city council voted unanimously to hold off on an ordinance, to do research and get more input from the public. However, it's clear where many stand-- including the Mayor Pro-Tem Patrick Keough who says there is money to be made and benefits for the sick but he's willing to listen to the people.
"We're in no hurry, there's no reason to hurry anything...this is a great opportunity to show our citizens that we can slow down and work this through intelligently," Keough said.