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|
|3||Oliver L. Baines III||Yes||Yes|
Fresno City Council video (view on website)