MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) --Merced is one step closer to approving medical pot dispensaries and cultivation. The city council Wednesday night planted the seed for an ordinance during a study session.
As of right now it's illegal to grow or sell medical marijuana in Merced but that could change soon.
"I think we need to be very careful and perhaps have certain guidelines," said Kevin Blake, City Council Member.
In January the city council put a ban in place to avoid state regulation and buy more time for discussion. Which didn't sit well with Sister Kate who grows plants to make oils and skin creams.
"That is basically your premise, that you had to ban it or you lose control. That is the equivalent to saying you don't trust the state," said Kate.
On Wednesday, the unofficial pot holiday 4/20, the discussion was revisited and hours later, the majority agreed to lay down rules for an ordinance. One that would allow four dispensaries in commercial zones, cultivation, and 12 plants per parcel.
"I'm in favor, I'm convinced that medical marijuana has a legitimate use," said Michael Belluomini, City Council Member.
But not everyone was supportive.
"Just because it's legal, it doesn't make it right-- and we don't want to do that to our children," said a concerned citizen.
The mayor, Stan Thurston, was on the fence. He wanted to keep the city, THC free but the majority of the city council disagreed.
"Nope. No. Okay, we're gonna smoke up the town. Alright, if that's what you want to do council."
With or without his approval the city is moving forward in a new direction. It's a small victory for people like Sister Kate but the battle, she says, is far from over.
"This is the beginning of it changing, Merced rolled over, everybody else will roll over. It's the beginning of some big change."
From here, the city will draft an ordinance. When it's done, city council will take a look at it and if approved it will take effect 30 days later.