Fresno CA can study from tiny Woodlake on legal marijuana


Fresno could study a issue or two from Woodlake.

Yes, Woodlake. The Tulare County city of 7,649 situated about 15 miles northeast of Visalia on Highway 245.

Woodlake is identified for its rodeo — held just about every Mother’s Day for the final 66 years — and for its botanical garden. But more than the final 1½ years, a different kind of plant has brought the city added renown.

These would be the marijuana flowers and other cannabis-infused goods sold at Valley Pure, the central San Joaquin Valley’s 1st legal dispensary.

(You do know marijuana, each recreational and medicinal use, is legal in California, correct? That may perhaps come as a shock to any individual living in Fresno and Clovis, exactly where city leaders have selected to clamp their hands more than their ears and yell “Na! Na! Na! Na!”)

I’m not positive no matter whether the electeds of Woodlake are much more enlightened than their counterparts in other Valley cities, or no matter whether they had been wise adequate to recognize a prime small business chance.

Either way, the city boasts two refurbished parks (new play structures, picnic tables, arbors and barbecues) and has added one particular complete-time police officer (equipped with a new squad auto), according to city manager Ramon Lara.

How did Woodlake spend for these issues? From the $692,000 the city has collected from Valley Pure in the type of a five% excise tax off gross receipts because April 30, 2018, the day the dispensary opened its doors.

For a city with an annual price range of $9.four million, that is no insignificant bump.

‘No concerns, no concerns’

You know who else has benefited from Valley Pure? The boutiques, taquerias and auto components shops in downtown Woodlake that have seasoned a “15 to 25%” uptick in small business because the dispensary opened, according to Lara.

Why? Since of the enhanced foot visitors from Valley Pure clients.

“They have been a very good neighbor to the other organizations,” Lara stated. “There have been no concerns and no issues.”

Hang on a second. Shouldn’t the opening of a marijuana dispensary have led to a surge of crime, not to mention an boost in unsavory characters hanging about?

I imply, that is what the finger-wagging moralists warn us about.

In reality, none of that has occurred. In the 17 months that Valley Pure has been open for small business, there has been only one particular get in touch with for police solutions.

I repeat: 1 get in touch with because May well 2018 – and not for an armed robbery, a break in or something of that nature. According to Lara, police had been summoned for the reason that a Valley Pure consumer was acting like an obnoxious jerk to shop staff.

“That’s the one particular and only get in touch with,” stated Lara, who pointed out Valley Pure is the only downtown small business to have 24/7 safety cameras.

Following Woodlake’s lead

Other nearby cities have gotten more than their initial reluctance and began to stick to Woodlake’s lead. Valley Pure has licenses to open dispensaries in Farmersville (along Highway 198), Lindsay and Lemoore, exactly where two cannabis firms not too long ago earned city approval.

What about Fresno, household to tens of thousands (if not much more) cannabis customers?

Practically a year because voters passed a marijuana small business tax measure and the City Council authorized an ordinance for healthcare dispensaries, city leaders are nonetheless arguing. And arguing.

At the moment, councilmembers are arguing more than no matter whether the ordinance need to include an equity clause that makes it possible for folks of colour from low-revenue neighborhoods to advantage from this new sector.

They’re arguing more than no matter whether just about every dispensary employee ought to have a spotless criminal record, or just the owners and operators.

And they’re arguing more than no matter whether the city manager need to have complete determination more than who gets cannabis organizations licenses and their places, or no matter whether that need to fall beneath the purview of each and every councilmember.

Maintaining an eye on Fresno

These arguments … err, discussions … are important. So is the mandatory environmental evaluation. But these bridges need to have been crossed lengthy ago. I imply, it is only been 22 years because California voters authorized healthcare marijuana.

In the meantime, Fresno cannabis customers continue to make use of the dozens of dispensaries and delivery solutions that operate in a legal gray region. Enterprises that do not have to fork more than a nickel in taxes.

According to City Councilman Miguel Arias, it’ll be June 2020 (at the earliest) till any licenses are awarded.

“The longer we delay it, the much more it makes it possible for the black marketplace to operate,” Arias stated.

Back at Valley Pure, District Manager Wes Hardin says his business continues to retain an eye on Fresno when expanding its operations in Tulare and Kings counties.

“We’re champing at the bit to get into that marketplace,” Hardin stated. “As quickly as Fresno becomes a hospitable atmosphere for organizations like ours, we’re going to want to come in.”

Any decade now. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to appear to Woodlake for enlightenment.

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Marek Warszawski writes opinion columns on news, politics, sports and high quality of life concerns for The Fresno Bee, exactly where he has worked because 1998. He is a Bay Location native, a UC Davis graduate and lifelong Sierra frolicker. He welcomes discourse with readers but does not endure fools nor trolls.


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