Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld announced his opposition Monday to recreational marijuana and said he will ask the City Council to impose a dispensary ban.
He is the first council member to call for such a prohibition.
In a guest post for the online Central Valley Observer, Bredefeld, a clinical psychologist, expressed concern for the health of children, safety while driving and whether cities can truly benefit from a product that is federally illegal. The councilman will make his pitch to his fellow members on March 30.
Bredefeld offered several arguments in his call for a recreational pot ban. Most of these were accurate, but a few – including a statistic on increased marijuana usage among children – were not. Here is a brief analysis of some of his major points:
“Since the legalization of marijuana in numerous states, the National Institute of Drug Abuse has found that marijuana use has climbed among 10th and 12 graders across the nation.”
False. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse’s website: “Marijuana use declined among 8th and 10th graders and remains unchanged among 12th graders compared to 5 years ago, despite the changing state marijuana laws. Past-year use of marijuana is at its lowest level in more than two decades among 8th and 10th graders.”
These statistics were as of December 2016, the website says.
“The sales from marijuana ultimately is a cash business and banks will not allow this ‘drug money’ to be deposited. These dispensaries already have and will always be a prime target for robberies and increased criminal behavior which will further increase demands on law enforcement and make the neighborhoods unsafe where these dispensaries exist.”
Marijuana companies bank and write checks. In Coalinga, the first city in Fresno County to embrace medical cannabis, City Manager Marissa Trejo said the city “had yet to receive large sums of cash” from any of the pot-related companies buying up city property.
“It’s a common misconception,” she said.
In Tulare County, sheriff’s spokeswoman Teresa Douglas broke down the crime statistics related to one of the area’s only legal dispensaries, CannaCanHelp in Goshen, for The Bee last year. No violent crimes had been reported in several years. The business had one break-in in December 2014, but nothing was taken.
CannaCanHelp Operations Manager Wes Hardin said the business had been robbed once in five or six years.
“Proposition 64, also known as the Marijuana Legalization Initiative, not surprisingly passed statewide in November 2016 but wisely failed in Fresno County with 54% of the people voting against legalization.”
True. According to the Fresno County Elections Office, 53 percent of Fresno voters were against Proposition 64. But what Bredefeld did not note: In the city of Fresno, 51.4 percent voted in favor of it.
“Proposition 64 now allows individuals 21 years or older to legally smoke marijuana and to grow up to six plants in their home, even if they are next to elementary schools.”
True. Smoking or using marijuana is prohibited in public areas or private businesses that already outlaw smoking tobacco, such as restaurants. Consuming marijuana outdoors within 1,000 feet of a school is also banned. You could be fined $100 for smoking in public and $250 for doing it near a school.
The provision that allows adults to have up to six plants does not say anything about schools, so growing in a home near a school is allowed. Cities may ban outdoor cultivation.
“If they are not banned, these dispensaries can begin opening up for business January 1, 2018.”
True. Alex Traverso, spokesman for the state Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, said Proposition 64 requires that licenses for both medical and recreational marijuana businesses be issued starting on Jan. 1.
If Fresno enacts any local controls on recreational dispensaries, the businesses would have to meet those requirements before applying for a state license.
“Additionally, Proposition 64 allows these dispensaries to advertise and promote marijuana on television though commercials promoting smoking have been banned for decades.”
The Federal Communications Commission refused to comment when asked Tuesday about whether such advertisements were allowed under federal regulations. The FCC typically bans advertising for any illegal products, and marijuana remains federally illegal.
The proposition notes that TV ads can only air at times when 71.6 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be over 21 and cannot contain any material targeted to children, such as cartoons.
“The AAA Foundation for Highway Safety reports that deaths in marijuana-related car crashes have doubled since the State of Washington approved legalization.”
True. The foundation’s website notes that the deaths doubled from 2013 to 2014.