More marijuana dispensaries could pop up in Atwater

ATWATER, Calif. (KFSN) -- More marijuana dispensaries could be sprouting up in Atwater.

Council members originally voted on allowing two dispensaries in the city, but now, more could be opening their doors.

"Take it away from two and make it council discretion," said Atwater council member Brian Raymond. "This is consistent what I've been saying from the beginning which is to let the free market dictate."

In a three to two vote, Raymond and two other council members voted to not limit the number of cannabis dispensaries allowed in Atwater.

That means the council will decide how many businesses are allowed to open their doors in the city.

City manager Lori Waterman says they've zoned industrial areas for cannabis, and those will be the only where businesses can operate.

She also says by not setting a limit, it allows for more opportunities.

"Some of the businesses we received are micro businesses, those are dispensaries, cultivation as well as manufacturing," Waterman said. "That would tie of one of those licensing for one that may just want to do a dispensary."

Similar to the city of Merced, Atwater city administrators are teaming up with police and fire officials to look over the applications.

Mayor Jim Price voted against the change, adding they should keep the cap at two dispensaries.

Along with being a prime concern, he claims that more dispensaries won't be a solution to the city's more than $2 million in debt.

"I think we need to take this as a let's see how this goes type of an attitude, and if it works, great. I don't believe putting more is going to be the revenue generator, everyone, images it to me," Mayor Price said.

"If down the road, we're finding out their security plan is not up to speed, that permit can be pulled at any time," Waterman said.

Council members will now wait for the development agreements, meanwhile, Price says it could be another six months before a dispensary business breaks ground in the city.

Price estimates it'll be about another six months before they see a dispensary break ground in the city
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