Fresno City Council approves ballot measure for cannabis business license tax

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno City Council approved a ballot measure for a cannabis business license tax. It is sponsored by Council Member Oliver Baines.

The tax would apply to medicinal marijuana and all other cannabis business. The ballot measure now goes before Fresno city voters on the November election ballot.

The specific measure language will be discussed and further worked out in future meetings.

The first step toward legalizing marijuana sales in Fresno is setting up a tax structure.

Mayor Lee Brand supports a ten percent tax. He told the city council, "I'm willing to stand behind something I think is right for our community and will make us a better community."

Better because both he and Police Chief Jerry Dyer believe a regulated market is better than a black market especially for those who need medicinal marijuana.

Chief Dyer said, "One of the things that have occurred is there is this medicinal demand, but there is no accessibility in our community unless it is through the black market, through neighborhood dealing, through illegal dispensaries."

Dyer believes revenue from the tax can support increased police enforcement over gangs and illegal dispensaries.

While Dyer and the Mayor are talking about medicinal dispensaries, City Council Member Clint Olivier wants to go beyond that.

"I favor Fresno becoming a location within the state of California that could cultivate, manufacture process, extract, distribute, and test cannabis in the city limits."

Today's discussion was only about putting a tax measure on the ballot for voters to decide. It's worded to say the money from marijuana sales could be used for any purpose, including combatting gangs, drug abuse, human trafficking, homelessness, and to help fund the police and the fire departments.

But it's not enough to convince the Rev. Rene Charset of Valley Chrisitan Center who sees as opening the door to legal marijuana sales.

"We are vehemently against this, against any dispensary."

The city council approved putting the marijuana tax on the November election ballot.

If approved by a two-thirds majority of voters it would place a ten percent tax on marijuana sales and charge dispensaries twelve dollars per square foot.
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