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Pot sellers want a say in any rules being written for marijuana sales in Fresno

Legislation is expected to be introduced to the Fresno City Council by June that would allow medical marijuana businesses to operate in the city, Councilman Clint Olivier told cannabis industry members.

It's still unclear what the legislation will or won't include. It could be released as early as two weeks from now or as late as six weeks.

City staff have been working on drafting a cannabis ordinance since December, when the city council voted to rewrite a complete ban on commercial marijuana operations. The city hired a consulting firm to help write the regulations.

Olivier organized the meeting Wednesday evening with people in the local cannabis industry in response to a Fresno Police Department news conference last week. That focused on an investigation that led to arrests and citations at a dispensary that sold candy inside packages labeled with cartoon characters. Police Chief Jerry Dyer said such packaging made the pot attractive to children.

Olivier reassured about 40 people who attended the meeting that work is being done, and they'd get a chance to comment on the proposed legislation before it goes to a vote. He said it's important for industry members to provide feedback on the proposed regulations. "The people in this room are the experts in this industry," he said.

The meeting was held in the council chambers after 5 p.m. with a representative for Mayor Lee Brand and staff from the city attorney's office. A post on the Fresno Cannabis Association Facebook page noted the city made an effort to protect the identity of people who wished to attend by not video recording the meeting or requiring attendees to sign in.

Industry members voiced concerns about equity and how current businesses will be treated compared to people who have waited to start their business in Fresno.

"We want to get this right, right out of the gate," Olivier said.

Those in attendance expressed their appreciation for the meeting and said they hoped the council and city staff would be open to further collaboration as the process moves forward.

Olivier warned the audience that whatever regulations are proposed may not make them happy. "We're closer than we ever have been to getting it right," he said.

If the ordinance is adopted in June, a tax measure could go before voters in November. The earliest the city might consider licensing would be January .

During Thursday's city council meeting, Gidai Maaza and Cesar CasaMayor asked the council to consider creating a committee or task force with people in the cannabis industry.

Brianna Calix: 559-441-6166, @BriannaCalix
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