Mims fears the shops are magnets for crime. Five have been burglarized. The shops have popped up in county islands and in unincorporated areas like Friant because cities have banned them, and the county has no rules to regulate the shops.
The Sheriff asked the Board of Supervisors to come up with some regulations. But shop owners like Stan Cummins fears the County will put them out of business. "My biggest concern is for my patients. Our patients, if they kick us out of the county our patients will have nowhere to go."
Cummins moved to Friant, after his shop in Madera was shut down by a county ordinance. But Cummins and the operators of many other dispensaries say they support some sort of control. "What happens is once one comes out then a few more come out and people get in an uproar." He said.
But some welcome the shops. Richard Howard owns a pharmacy in Friant, right next door to a dispensary. He says they are good neighbors and he thinks the county should back off. "What a waste of my tax dollars. Why don't they spend that money putting a few crack dealers in jail instead of letting them all out? Because they are so worried about some chemo patient smoking a joint, I mean, that just makes no sense."
The supervisors unanimously approved an emergency ordinance, designed to prohibit other dispensaries from opening up for at least the next 45 days. During that time the existing shops will be evaluated on a case by case basis, to see if they are operating in an area properly zoned for a marijuana dispensary.
The catch is, the county has no designated zones for Marijuana dispensaries, and doesn't have to allow them anywhere. This could be the first step toward banning them all or creating a thriving medical marijuana business community in Fresno County.