Kase Reynolds celebrated his fourth birthday on Monday, coincidentally the same day that the Ceres City Council approved his father's proposal to bring to Ceres a medical marijuana facility to deliver products to alleviate suffering for him and other children dealing with medical problems.
Sitting in a stroller and sucking on a pacifier, Kase had no grasp of the business being conducted around him in the Council Chambers. But when the entire council and audience broke into the Happy Birthday song as a celebration of sorts he took notice.
Kase suffers from seizures related to chromosome 5q14.3 deletion syndrome, a neurocognitive disorder characterized by epilepsy and intellectual disability.
The council formally adopted a zoning ordinance change which permits the first-ever medical marijuana manufacturing facility in Ceres. Mike Reynolds is proposing to build a 22,000-square-foot Kase Manufacturing plant at 4111 Brew Master Drive. The prior zoning ordinance did not allow such facilities.
The approval not only took on the role of a birthday present for the Reynolds but for the city itself, which is scrambling to fill a $1.1 million budget deficit. The city seemed more than eager to shuttle forth the Kase Manufacturing proposal under a developer agreement after Reynolds sweetened the deal with a pledge to pay the city jaw-dropping fees of $50,000 per month during the first year. His voluntary fee increases to $75,000 per month in the second year and $100,000 per month in the third year. The City Council is counting on using half of Reynolds' money months before the project even gets off the ground.
Reynolds aims to have the facility operational by Sept. 1. The former Central Valley High School coach and associates propose a highly-regulated indoor facility to grow marijuana and extract oil and other products that would help people like his son. Describing himself as a church-going conservative, Reynolds said he believes cannabis is the only product that has given his son "quality of life." He said Kase went from 1,000 seizures a day to five to 10 because of cannabinoids extracted from marijuana.
"I want to thank you," Reynolds told the council on Monday. "It's been a challenging subject and to come home and have your guys' blessing has been great, all the way from fire and police have them come out and be supportive ... is something I don't think I could have ever dreamed of."
The facility would involve planting, growing, harvesting, drying, curing, grading, trimmed, extracting, or manufacturing plants into cannabis products. The development agreement would give the city to tightly regulate the operation and shut it down if out of compliance.
Reynolds said he can buy cannabis but must travel to areas like Oakland, Monterey and Southern California to get it. He said he would rather start a business in Ceres and earlier this year urged the council to "morally and ethically" consider a pilot program where cannabis is grown and distributed to those in medical need.
"My big thing is I want to make sure kids all over the world can get medicine," said Reynolds after the meeting. "I saw what it's done for my family."
Ceres resident Len Shepherd applauded the program and said it could serve as a model for other cities to follow. However, Baptist pastor Adrian Condit asked the city to be cautious "to keep this from spreading into many other stores."
"I'm in favor is it helps this young man but I am not in favor of turning it loose to everything that comes along," said Condit. "I think we ought to put some kind of lid on it and hold it to just medical."
The council remains opposed to allowing any dispensaries in the city limits for recreational marijuana sales.
Mayor Chris Vierra told Condit "we've addressed many of your concerns in multiple meetings that we've had. Rest assured that there won't be the problem of one of these popping up on every street corner."
The council has yet to direct city staff on a request by Hiram Cueto of Service Road who twice has come before the council urging the allowance for a marijuana testing facility. Cueto, a local chemist, owns an existing environmental testing laboratory. Testing of medicinal marijuana will be mandated by the state through certified labs, he said, and Cueto believes he can complement Reynolds' business.