Voters in Fresno could have the opportunity in November to vote on taxing medical marijuana businesses. But first, the Fresno City Council would have to approve the measure to go on the ballot next week.
On Thursday the Fresno City Council is expected to decide if people can vote on November 6 to add a tax to medical cannabis businesses.
The legislation is sponsored by three council members and needs at least five votes to pass. Clint Olivier representing District 7 is a sponsor of the measure and is confident the vote will pass.
“I’m pretty confident that on Thursday, we need five votes and I think those votes will be there," Olivier says.
90 percent of the proposed tax would go toward the general fund, that’s used for things like police, fire and parks. The other 10 percent would go to a Community Benefit Fund. It’s too early to know what the smaller portion would be used for, but Olivier hopes it could help disadvantaged communities that have been left behind as the city has grown.
“And so I think that the money is best spent in job training, in neighborhood programs, for seniors, for disadvantaged neighborhoods and communities,” says Olivier.
Whether or not the council passes the ordinance Thursday, Mayor Lee Brand says doing nothing is “not an option.”
“Doing nothing is going to cost the city, based on our estimates, at least $3 million dollars plus a year, because we still have the obligation to try to keep control of these illegal (marijuana) clinics and all the problems they cause and there’s been people who have died in Fresno over illegal marijuana grows,” Brand says.
The city is currently studying zoning changes that could allow medical dispensaries in certain parts of town.