Possible ban on medical marijuana shops in Fresno County

FRESNO, Calif.

Supervisors will vote on a total ban sometime within the next 30 days after rejecting a set of regulations suggested by county staff.

Pot dispensaries popped up quickly in Tarpey Village and along Shaw Ave. in Old Fig Garden after the collectives got shut down in the city of Fresno. Before long, the new neighbors got fed up and got in line to express their concerns.

"These are not the kinds of businesses we feel are beneficial," said Merilee Amos, who lives in Old Fig. "We think they're dangerous."

When Action News first reported on the proliferation of dispensaries moving to the county in March, they saw the map changing.

We were there as deputies followed legally grown medical marijuana from Fresno County fields to illegal operations across the country.

"These collectives have moved beyond the providing of medical marijuana and into the profit area," said Sheriff Margaret Mims.

Local collective owners say there are just a few bad apples making them all look bad. They say a series of rules would keep everyone in order, while letting the county collect millions in taxes.

"If you write the regulations, then people have to abide by them," said medical marijuana advocate Diana Kirby. "If they abide by them, then everything is going to be safe."

"The sheriff's office is underfunded," said Sean Dwyer, who runs the collective California Herbal Relief Center in Old Fig. "The DA's office is underfunded and that's why crime is going up. If you were to tax us 1.8%, that would bring a lot of money."

After months of work, county staff created a list of proposed regulations for supervisors to consider.

Medical marijuana dispensaries would've been restricted to commercial locations. They would've had to stay at least 1000 feet from schools and parks. No felons could've been involved in the dispensaries, and the sheriff's office would've had access to their records.

But supervisors wanted no part of the regulations, asking staff to rewrite the proposed ordinance, banning dispensaries instead of regulating them.

Supervisor Susan Anderson was the only one opposed to a total ban. She says the issue needs to be addressed at the state level.

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