A new cannabis ordinance that was proposed after a 4/20 celebration in Woodward Park got a cool reception at Thursday’s meeting of the Fresno City Council.
Council Member Lee Brand proposed the new ordinance, which on paper prohibited the use of controlled substances on city property, including parks. Because medical marijuana didn’t fall into the exemption for people using prescription medications (cannabis patients receive recommendations from doctors, not prescriptions), cannabis patients would be effectively barred from medicating on city property. A “three strikes” clause would have banned repeat violators from city property for a year, with lesser penalties including fines and ejection from city venues.
What the staff report didn’t mention was the apparent source of Brand’s displeasure: The April 19 Berner concert at the Rotary Amphitheater in Woodward Park. Despite reports of heavy security, the concert wasn’t entirely smoke-free, and complaints from some park patrons spurred Brand into action.
The lone speaker against the ordinance was Michael Green of the Fresno Cannabis Association, who said the ordinance unfairly exempted users of prescription medications but not cannabis patients. He also noted the issue hadn’t been vetted by the council’s ad hoc medical marijuana subcommittee.
Green wasn’t the only one who expressed concerns. Council Member Clint Olivier asked pointedly whether another city ordinance was need to deal with “druggies” in city parks. Council Member Oliver Baines, a former police officer, agreed that police already have ample “tools” to deal with drug use in public places. When Council Member Paul Caprioglio expressed his opposition, the die was cast and Brand quickly requested a continuance.
Fresno Bee advance story: Fresno officials look to ban pot use at city parks, facilities
Fresno Bee follow-up story: Proposed Fresno pot-smoking ban extinguished by council