Apr 102015

Faced with opposition from Prop. 215 patients, the Fresno City Council voted down a cannabis cultivation ordinance to allow limited indoor growing.

Thursday’s 4-3 vote represented an about-face from the March 26 hearing, where the council voted 5-2 to approve the ordinance. The measure would have allowed patients to grow up to four plants indoors after securing a “special permit” from the city. Under Fresno Ordinance 2014-20, all growing is prohibited.

While Fresno Cannabis Association members and other speakers praised the council for being open to changes, they also warned the proposed ordinance had several problems and needed more work. Among their concerns: The requirement for a city-issued “special permit,” the ban on greenhouse growing using natural sunlight, the lack of environmental review, and the $1,000/plant fines for violations.

Medical cannabis patients were not the only ones concerned. Fresno County Supervisor Andreas Borgeas mentioned the city ordinance at Tuesday’s board meeting.

“I’ve been in contact with the council president of the City of Fresno, and some of you may have heard that the City of Fresno passed the first reading of a marijuana ordinance. I just wanted to put out there that I’m hoping to engage the city to see if there’s any compatibility that can be discussed between the county and the city,” Borgeas said.

The “compatibility” issue arises because both the City and the County of Fresno have total bans on cannabis cultivation in place; the city’s action would have left the county with the only growing ban. Borgeas didn’t describe what sort of engagement he was proposing, but he asked to meet with County Counsel Dan Cederborg.

Board Chair Debbie Poochigian suggested supervisors contact city officials ‐ with attorney in tow.

“Is there any interest in a couple of us going over and talking to the city to see if we can get them to maybe incorporate our marijuana ordinance? I mean, it’s none of our business; it’s not our jurisdiction. But at least to ask them to put it off,” she said.

“Would you guys be OK if we took a lawyer with us?” Poochigian asked her colleagues a moment later. “Whoever’s going to go will take a lawyer with them, either one or two of us, we haven’t decided yet.”

It was unclear from Poochigian’s comments whether she was aware the city had already banned medical cannabis cultivation. Fresno County banned all cannabis gardens in January 2014; the City Council followed suit two months later at the urging of Borgeas and police Chief Jerry Dyer. Both ordinances feature $1,000/plant fines. You can view the brief board discussion on the county website.

District Council Member March 26 April 9
1 Esmeralda Soria Yes Yes
2 Steve Brandau No No
3 Oliver L. Baines III Yes Yes
4 Paul Caprioglio Yes No
5 Sal Quintero No No
6 Lee Brand Yes No
7 Clint Olivier Yes Yes

KVPR radio: Fresno City Council changes mind on medical marijuana growing

Fresno Bee: Fresno City Council says no to grant for farmland planning

Fresno City Council video (view on website)

Mar 262015

The Fresno City Council voted Thursday to permit the indoor-only cultivation of up to four medical cannabis plants, a slight change of course from the zero-tolerance ban it passed last year. UPDATE: Fresno City Council balks at cannabis ordinance The ordinance was brought forth by council President Oliver Baines III, who chaired a medical marijuana subcommittee that met with stakeholders last May. At that time, medical cannabis patients expressed serious reservations about the four-plant limit [read more …]

Mar 182015

Fresno County supervisors voted Tuesday to uphold $477,000 in fines imposed against medical cannabis patients and property owners, while granting one property owner’s appeal. The vote was more symbolic than substantive, as many of the patients cited have either left the county or lack the ability to pay. Yet Tuesday’s hearings highlighted the fine-centric approach adopted by Fresno County, as well as the plight of non-resident property owners who get cited right along with the [read more …]

Mar 122015

Title: Fresno County Cannabis CircusStart Time: 9 a.m.Date: Tuesday, March 17, 2015Location: Fresno County Hall of Records, 3rd Floor, 2281 Tulare St., FresnoDescription: Fresno County supervisors will pull out their rubber stamps to approve cannabis cultivation fines totaling $1.5 million against seven Prop. 215 patient-growers AND the owners of the property where the plants were grown. The smallest fine is $67,000; the largest is $800,000. Although the facts vary in each case, these leftovers from [read more …]

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Mar 112015

A lawsuit challenging Fresno County’s cannabis cultivation ban on environmental grounds is nearing its final destination, with hearing set for April 30 in Fresno County Superior Court. The trial notebook shown below contains all the pleadings in the lawsuit filed against the County of Fresno by Michael S. Green, a medical cannabis patient and advocate. The suit alleges that the county violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when its cannabis cultivation ban was enacted [read more …]

Mar 052015

New court filings are available for viewing in the lawsuit filed by the Fresno Cannabis Association and the Union of Medical Marijuana Patients against the City of Fresno. The suit challenges the city’s cannabis cultivation ban, which was enacted in 2014 after Fresno County also banned growing. Both the city and county ordinances impose heavy fines of $1000 per plant for violations. The suit alleges that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) [read more …]