Last time I checked, Fresno was located within the state of California.
Someone please provide our elected representatives with a map.
Last November, California voters overwhelmingly (57.1 percent) to legalize marijuana use for adults 21 and over and grow up to six plants in private residences. The winning margin in Fresno may have been smaller (51.4 percent), but Proposition 64 passed nonetheless.
For some reason that kind of electoral math doesn’t compute for our City Council, whose members evidently don’t believe in democracy. Either that, or they think they know better what’s good for us.
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Which is why Thursday evening, by a slim 4-3 majority, they adopted an ordinance that bans marijuana cultivation within the city limits. Within the next month or two, they’ll decide whether the bans should extend to sales and dispensaries.
All the while willfully ignoring the wishes of their own constituents.
Besides grandstanding, something this council seems to excel at (see “In God We Trust”), I can’t come up with another logical, rational explanation why our elected leaders would enact such a measure.
Because none of the reasons they give us (dangers to children, gateway drug, increase in crime) hold up to real scrutiny. It’s as if the entire City Council watched “Reefer Madness” and decided it was a Ken Burns documentary.
The only local politician making any sense on this issue is Council President Clint Olivier, whose last-ditch attempt to avert the ban fell one vote short. In advance of Thursday’s vote Olivier told our Rory Appleton, “Politicians, even here in the city, are afraid of the stigma – afraid of the political ramifications of not supporting a ban.”
Politicians, even here in the city, are afraid of the stigma – afraid of the political ramifications of not supporting a ban.
Fresno City Councilmember Clint Olivier
What, or who, are they so afraid of?
Here’s a reality our city councilmembers don’t seem to be able to accept: Thousands of people living in Fresno, tens of thousands of them, use marijuana regularly. Some use it for medicinal purposes. Most (I suspect) use it recreationally.
How do I know this? Because despite Fresno’s current ban on medicinal pot, there are still at least 40 delivery services and eight storefronts operating within the city according to Weed Maps. (Yes, Weed Maps. What a concept.)
Meaning there are enough marijuana users in town to support 40 delivery services and eight storefronts, even though those businesses are forced to operate clandestinely.
Guess what? Those people are not going to stop using just because the City Council declared Fresno a weed-free zone.
They’re going to keep getting their pot, either through illegal dealers or out-of-town dispensaries, leaving other cities to reap the benefits. And the folks who really need marijuana for legitimate medical needs continue to suffer.
People are not going to stop using just because the City Council declares Fresno a weed-free zone. They’re going to keep getting their pot, either through illegal dealers or out-of-town dispensaries – and other cities will reap the benefits.
Mayor Lee Brand, who also publicly favors the ban, estimates Fresno could generate $10 million per year on taxes from marijuana sales. The City’s general fund must be so flush with cash we couldn’t use the money. Yeah, sure.
Again, Olivier is one of the few local politicians who can differentiate practical from hysterical.
“The people of this city voted to pass Proposition 64,” Olivier said. “If we could find some solution that allows dispensaries and deliveries, the city could find itself on a windfall of tax dollars.”
Proponents of Fresno’s anti-marijuana measure, namely City Councilman Garry Bredefeld, are on nothing more than a personal crusade.
Guess what, Garry? You are not our moral arbiter. The choice whether to use marijuana comes down to each individual. That’s what it means to live in a free society.
Not an endorsement
Don’t mistake this as a marijuana endorsement. I wouldn’t recommend anyone smoke pot, and I feel similarly about tobacco, alcohol and deep-fried Twinkies.
All are probably best avoided. It’s just that tobacco, alcohol and trans fats have more societal acceptance.
57.1 percentage of Californians who voted in favor of Proposition 64 to legalize marijuana
But as shown by the November vote, both statewide and locally, the attitudes about marijuana are changing. Our elected leaders should be trying to figure out how to make the law work best, both for the city and its citizens, instead of foisting their own morals upon us.
And for what reason? As written, the city’s ordinance prohibits all cultivation of marijuana. However, it also notes law enforcement won’t enforce the ban of anyone growing six plants inside a private residence.
So what’s the point of enacting a measure that won’t even be enforced?
There is none. Again, it’s nothing more than grandstanding.
Our City Councilmembers simply want to puff out their chests and be able to tell like-minded supporters (who are in the minority), “See? We have tougher pot laws than any city in California. And we trust in God, too.”
It reeks of politicians, some of whom are eying higher office, making points with their narrow constituencies instead of representing what the city wants.
Because whether our elected leaders like it or not, Fresno remains in California. And come Jan. 1, marijuana in this state will be legal.