Key City Council votes Thursday
The Fresno City Council is poised to take a giant leap forward Thursday by voting (possibly) to place a cannabis business license tax on the November ballot for city voters to approve.
OR, the City Council majority could be swayed by the same old “reefer madness” rhetoric that has stalled progress in the city and county for more than a decade. (See sidebar for a small taste of the battle ahead.)
Why now? That’s a very good question, but the shortest answer involves an August filing deadline to place a city-sponsored ballot measure on the ballot. The mayor’s office is proposing a special tax requiring a 2/3 majority vote for approval, which is a very tall order in a city where (some) elected officials and civic leaders are openly hostile to cannabis reform. A general tax on commercial cannabis activities would be simpler because it requires only a majority of votes for approval.
When is “now,” exactly? Another good question, but this one doesn’t have an exact answer because City Council meetings are dynamic and subject to change. Our best estimate is that the cannabis business tax, and a related cannabis “workshop,” will take place late Thursday morning, but it could easily slide to the afternoon session. (Agenda items 4-C, 4-D)
They won’t listen to me. Actually, they will. And if you’re not there, they’ll listen to cannabis opponents. Assuming the mayor’s office and City Council are serious about adopting regulations, they can’t do it in a political vacuum. They need your support.
I understand this email is coming on short notice. Nobody really wants to spend Thursday morning (or afternoon) watching the sparks fly at City Hall. But I want to impress upon you (and your friends and family) the importance of having cannabis patients, consumers and would-be business owners show up and speak up. Maybe you can’t fight City Hall (been there, done that), but you can show up and supportCity Hall as it tries to enact reasonable cannabis regulations and taxes.
Pastors fighting cannabis regs, taxes
Three Fresno pastors have come out against a plan by Mayor Lee Brand and the City Council to permit a limited number of medical cannabis dispensaries and other businesses to open up shop in Fresno.
“It’s a spiritual issue with me, but it’s a moral issue that our leadership in our city would compromise the health and welfare of our community so they can get more money in the coffers,” Paul L. Binion II of Westside Church of God said in a Fresno Bee story. “I’m greatly disturbed.”
Opposition to cannabis in Fresno is nothing new. Dispensaries have been banned since 2004, and personal cultivation by patients was banned in 2012 and 2014. Proposition 64 provided some relief in 2016, but the city has yet to pass any regulations for either personal cultivation or commercial businesses.
In 2017, the City Council voted to ban“recreational” dispensaries at a public hearing where religious leaders also were present.