A second medical marijuana dispensary for Ceres was approved Monday evening as some members of the City Council are suggesting it is time to put the brakes on future applications.
The council voted 3-1 to approve a medical marijuana dispensary application filed by Mike Reynolds, the same applicant who earlier this year won approval for Ceres' first and so-far only medical marijuana manufacturing facility.
Under the three-year developer agreement approved on Monday for Kase's Journey dispensary, Reynolds is allowed to sell medical marijuana at 4030 Farm Supply Drive which is not far from his 22,000-square-foot Kase Manufacturing plant at 4111 Brew Master Drive. The dispensary agreement calls for Reynolds to pay the city a $80,000 fee following the issuance of a marijuana business permit and a monthly fee of $40,000 if the firm earns $500,000 or less in gross receipts that month. The fee rises to $50,000 per month for gross receipts of between $500,001 and $800,000; $75,000 per month for sales of $800,001 to $1.1 million; and $100,000 monthly for sales more than $1,100,001.
The agreement is similar to the one approved in October for Pacafi Cooperative, Inc. to operate a 6,000-square-foot dispensary at 1442 Angie Avenue.
In May the council approved a medical marijuana manufacturing facility for an industrial area in southwest Ceres. The developer agreement for Kase Manufacturing, 4111 Brew Master Drive, calls for the business to pay the city fees of $50,000 per month during the first year. The fee increases to $75,000 per month in the second year and $100,000 per month in the third year. The plant is operational with the first payment to the city to occur on Jan. 2.
Mayor Chris Vierra recused himself from the discussion and voting because he owns property near the site.
Councilwoman Linda Ryno was the lone voice against the application, saying that had she known what stance the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors would later take that she likely wouldn't have voted to support the first dispensary proposed on Angie.
"When we discussed the one up on Angie, the mayor said ‘we might as well get the revenue from it because it's going to be all around us' and I agreed with him. I thought that made a lot of sense," said Ryno. "Well now I see that the county has said that they will recognize the cities that choose to be dry cities and will not permit any activity within a half a mile of a city's sphere of influence. Had I known that I probably wouldn't have agreed with the facility up on Angie because I'm afraid that we're going to be known as the cannabis capital of Stanislaus County and that's not what I want for our city. I want our city to still be thought of as a family city. I don't want it to be that suddenly all we can see is the cannabis trees and all the money floating down. I don't think it is going to help the city."
Ryno said problems with marijuana use will add to pressures on the police department and cautioned the council against depending on the windfall revenues.
The council will receive an update next month on the regulations to be issued by the state. A year ago, voters approved Prop. 64, which requires the state to enact regulations by Jan. 1 for the permitting of marijuana facilities. Dispensaries will not be permitted in cities that do not want them. The city of Turlock has decided it will not permit marijuana dispensaries but Modesto already has dispensaries.
The city will be exploring if Ceres should be home to other marijuana related facilities, such as testing.
Rev. Adrian Condit, who was on hand to deliver the invocation of the council meeting, asked the council how many dispensaries the city would be allowing.
"That, Mr. Condit, hasn't been determined," replied Vice Mayor Mike Kline. "After this my recommendation is to put brakes on it."
Condit replied: "I would say ‘amen' to that right away. As I said way back ... if we don't put a brake on this, we'll have dispensaries all over town. This is something you guys need to take control of or we're going to have marijuana floating down the street."
Vietnam War veteran Don Donaldson asked the council if marijuana is so great, why he is not permitted to seek it for medical purposes without losing his veteran's benefits.
"It's a drug - it's something that's really going to really hurt this community in the long run," said Donaldson.
Paula Redfern said she's concerned that the city will become addicted to the marijuana industry's ability to infuse cash into city coffers.
"My concern is that ... you guys are just going to see the dollar amount because I know the city needs money," said Redfern. "That you were going to see that dollar amount and you were going to get greedy and opening up dispensaries when initially you guys stated - or at least gave the perception you were against them - and now we're on number two. Not to mention the ones within the sphere of influence in the county that are going to be in the general area on the west side of Ceres. We're very concerned. We're going to have an overconcentration of marijuana in our city."
Redfern drew attention to the proposed facility's close proximity to a residential area in southwest Ceres, and Sam Ryno Park less than a half-mile away.
She also said she has interviewed recreational pot smokers and said medical marijuana cards are easy to obtain and without proof of medical need.
"Even though I agree there are benefits to medicinal marijuana, as far as being for medicinal purposes, quite frankly it's a joke," said Redfern.
Saying medical and recreational marijuana "is here to stay" because of the voters' wishes, Vice Mayor Kline said he wanted to put other applications on hold until after the city can determine what other types of licenses it wishes to permit in Ceres.
Councilman Bret Durossette said he doesn't want Ceres being known as a "marijuana town" either but said "this is an opportunity for us to at least grab some revenue." He said the city can shut down operations if they prove to be problematic.
Kline, Durossette and Ken Lane cast "yes" votes with Ryno in opposition.