FRESNO – After listening to public testimony and staff recommendations during a meeting on Tuesday, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors took steps to permanently ban medical marijuana collective dispensaries.
Fresno County currently has more than a dozen medical marijuana shops. Supervisors placed a ban last July on any new dispensaries opening in the county until 2012.
County staff proposed a list of regulations for dispensaries for the supervisors to review. One of the regulations suggested was that the “pot shops” be kept 1,000 feet from schools, parks, playgrounds and residential-zoned properties. This would have left 60 to 210 sites where the dispensaries could locate. Another possible regulation said that no felons could be involved in the dispensaries, and the sheriff’s office would have had access to their records.
Advocates for the medical marijuana shops asked the board of supervisors to agree to regulate instead of ban the dispensaries, saying that they provide a safe product that is necessary for many patients to ease their medical symptoms.
“If you write the regulations, then people have to abide by them,” said Diana Kirby, a medical marijuana advocate. “If they abide by them, then everything is going to be safe.”
However, other speakers, many of whom live in neighborhoods where the dispensaries are located, said that the marijuana shops have the potential to cause an increase in crime, including theft and violence. Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims also recommended the ban, citing that many of the shops have moved beyond providing just medical marijuana and into the profit area.
The board of supervisors didn’t vote on the subject, but instead directed staff to draft an ordinance to altogether ban medical marijuana dispensaries in the county. The board is expected to vote within the next 30 days on the ban.