Fresno could study a point or two from Woodlake.

Yes, Woodlake. The Tulare County city of 7,649 positioned about 15 miles northeast of Visalia on Highway 245.

Woodlake is recognized for its rodeo — held just about every Mother’s Day for the final 66 years — and for its botanical garden. But more than the final 1½ years, a different sort of plant has brought the city further renown.

These would be the marijuana flowers and other cannabis-infused solutions sold at Valley Pure, the central San Joaquin Valley’s very first legal dispensary.

(You do know marijuana, each recreational and medicinal use, is legal in California, correct? That may possibly come as a shock to any one living in Fresno and Clovis, exactly where city leaders have selected to clamp their hands more than their ears and yell “Na! Na! Na! Na!”)

I’m not positive whether or not the electeds of Woodlake are a lot more enlightened than their counterparts in other Valley cities, or whether or not they had been sensible adequate to recognize a prime organization chance.

Either way, the city boasts two refurbished parks (new play structures, picnic tables, arbors and barbecues) and has added 1 complete-time police officer (equipped with a new squad automobile), according to city manager Ramon Lara.

How did Woodlake spend for these items? From the $692,000 the city has collected from Valley Pure in the kind of a five% excise tax off gross receipts considering that April 30, 2018, the day the dispensary opened its doors.

For a city with an annual price range of $9.four million, that is no insignificant bump.

‘No difficulties, no concerns’

You know who else has benefited from Valley Pure? The boutiques, taquerias and auto components shops in downtown Woodlake that have seasoned a “15 to 25%” uptick in organization considering that the dispensary opened, according to Lara.

Why? For the reason that of the improved foot website traffic from Valley Pure consumers.

“They have been a superior neighbor to the other organizations,” Lara stated. “There have been no difficulties and no issues.”

Hang on a second. Shouldn’t the opening of a marijuana dispensary have led to a surge of crime, not to mention an improve in unsavory characters hanging about?

I imply, that is what the finger-wagging moralists warn us about.

In reality, none of that has occurred. In the 17 months that Valley Pure has been open for organization, there has been only 1 get in touch with for police solutions.

I repeat: A single get in touch with considering that Could 2018 – and not for an armed robbery, a break in or something of that nature. According to Lara, police had been summoned since a Valley Pure consumer was acting like an obnoxious jerk to shop personnel.

“That’s the 1 and only get in touch with,” stated Lara, who pointed out Valley Pure is the only downtown organization to have 24/7 safety cameras.

Following Woodlake’s lead

Other nearby cities have gotten more than their initial reluctance and began to comply with Woodlake’s lead. Valley Pure has licenses to open dispensaries in Farmersville (along Highway 198), Lindsay and Lemoore, exactly where two cannabis corporations lately earned city approval.

What about Fresno, property to tens of thousands (if not a lot more) cannabis customers?

Practically a year considering that voters passed a marijuana organization tax measure and the City Council authorized an ordinance for healthcare dispensaries, city leaders are nevertheless arguing. And arguing.

At the moment, councilmembers are arguing more than whether or not the ordinance need to include an equity clause that permits people today of colour from low-earnings neighborhoods to advantage from this new sector.

They’re arguing more than whether or not just about every dispensary employee will have to have a spotless criminal record, or just the owners and operators.

And they’re arguing more than whether or not the city manager need to have complete determination more than who gets cannabis organizations licenses and their places, or whether or not that need to fall below the purview of every single councilmember.

Maintaining an eye on Fresno

These arguments … err, discussions … are required. So is the mandatory environmental assessment. But these bridges need to have been crossed lengthy ago. I imply, it is only been 22 years considering that California voters authorized healthcare marijuana.

In the meantime, Fresno cannabis customers continue to use the dozens of dispensaries and delivery solutions that operate in a legal gray region. Enterprises that do not have to fork more than a nickel in taxes.

According to City Councilman Miguel Arias, it’ll be June 2020 (at the earliest) till any licenses are awarded.

“The longer we delay it, the a lot more it permits the black industry to operate,” Arias stated.

Back at Valley Pure, District Manager Wes Hardin says his business continues to preserve an eye on Fresno although expanding its operations in Tulare and Kings counties.

“We’re champing at the bit to get into that industry,” Hardin stated. “As quickly as Fresno becomes a hospitable atmosphere for organizations like ours, we’re going to want to come in.”

Any decade now. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to appear to Woodlake for enlightenment.

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Marek Warszawski writes opinion columns on news, politics, sports and excellent of life difficulties for The Fresno Bee, exactly where he has worked considering that 1998. He is a Bay Region native, a UC Davis graduate and lifelong Sierra frolicker. He welcomes discourse with readers but does not endure fools nor trolls.