Merced leader hopes city will become model for monetizing commercial marijuana

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Merced's City Manager is unabashedly pro marijuana, and he wants the city to be a model on how to regulate the industry while maintaining profits. (KFSN)

Merced city leaders seemed poised to make a statement Tuesday night.

In a matter of three hours, they became the first in the Valley to seriously consider allowing every type of cannabis business to its city.

"Thank you for being very forward thinking, it's not something we see a lot," a community member said.

The planning commission and city council originally assembled to talk about medical marijuana, and some wanted to stay on that trajectory.

"We need to hold hearings, we don't have input from the public to make that decision," a board member said.

But experts pointed out that medical marijuana is no longer profitable after Proposition 64. In the end, the city asked for staff to redraft an ordinance allowing for commercial cultivation, manufacturing, dispensaries, testing, and distribution.

It's an outcome City Manager Steve Carrigan wanted to see.

"Younger people don't seem to have trouble with it the way that older people have, it's a challenge," he said. "It's an awkward conversation."

Carrigan is unabashedly pro marijuana, and he wants the city to be a model on how to regulate the industry while maintaining profits.

He knows nearly half of the city disagreed with him last November at the polls.

"I'm focusing on the 46, and I want to convince the 46 that it's okay, crime will not go up, revenue will go up, we are going to be the standard," he said.

It's an uncomfortable question all cities across California are being forced to answer. In Merced, leaders hope theirs will be a guiding light.

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politicspoliticsmerced countyMerced
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