Medicinal marijuana is now legal in Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Cannabis supporters received a boost from the Fresno City Council on Thursday, as councilmembers approved the processing and sale of medical marijuana.

The measure to allow growing, processing, distributing and selling of medical marijuana passed on a five to two vote.

The measure also calls for adult use, or recreational marijuana, to be allowed in one year.

There was a last minute attempt to amend the legalization measure by marijuana opponent Councilmember Garry Bredefeld.

He proposed a rule change that would prohibit sales in any city council district where more than 50 percent of voters did not approve Prop 64, the California law that legalized marijuana.

Councilmember Oliver Baines shot the proposal down, noting that a majority of Fresno voters approved Prop 64.

"That's not a constructive way to make policy, the cannabis industry is simply going to be a business in the city of Fresno," said Baines.

The measure passed by the council today would start with allowing one cannabis retailer in each council district, moving to two if there were no problems, for a total of 14. Cannabis growing, processing and testing would be limited to an industrial area in Southeast Fresno.

Only Councilmembers Bredefeld and Steve Brandau voted no on the measure. The five votes in favor are enough to overcome a veto by the Mayor, but that could change with two new council members taking office next month.

Cannabis supporter Shannon Luce says the council made the right choice.

"I think the fact they got it going with medicinal first, I think the city needs that comfort first to see that it's going to be okay," said Luce. "I do not think adult use or recreational is going to be a bad thing. I think it is needed and it will come too."

Coalinga is currently the only city in Fresno County which allows recreational and medicinal sales. It's an hour drive from Fresno, and Coalinga Mayor Nathan Vosburg came to Fresno watch the vote because it could eventually affect his city's businesses.

"In Coalinga, we have recreational and medicinal, and so to be honest with you, I do not understand why they would not do both in Fresno as well, but of course, it would probably benefit our town if they did not."

The Fresno city manager must now draft rules and regulations and licensing requirements for medicinal cannabis sales; a process that could take six months. After that, six months later, rules for recreational sales will be on the table.
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