Stockton City Council decides future of medical marijuana

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The Stockton City Council decided the fate of medical cannabis at a recent meeting. PHOTO BY ALIYAH STOECKL
The Stockton City Council decided the fate of medical cannabis at a recent meeting. PHOTO BY ALIYAH STOECKL

Last year Stockton voters approved the new medical cannabis policies. On Feb. 28, the Stockton City Council held a special meeting to discuss how these new policies should be put into action.Stockton residents voted for allowing two new medical cannabis dispensaries, introducing four cultivation sites and an increased business-licensed tax on new and existing establishments.

The council is setting the tax rate at the maximum allowable level. The city is recommending a tax rate of $50 per $1,000 in gross receipts.

According to the City Manager Kurt O. Wilson, after setting the level of $50, the medical cannabis revenue will increase to one million a year.

Existing owners of medical cannabis dispensaries had concerns over the competition of illegal cannabis dispensaries that are not paying any form of tax.

“We urge you to use your authority to enforce your own laws and close the illegal ones immediately. The only fair thing to do is to gradually raise the rate, as the illegal stores are closed and only implementing the top rate when the city has met its obligation to implement its law and level the playing field by closing all illegal locations,” said Adam Pressler-Smith, who currently owns the two dispensaries in Stockton.

Recently, two illegal cannabis dispensaries have been compromised and are under investigation.

These illegal cannabis dispensaries were only shut down due to tips from callers with limited resources.

Voters approved two more dispensaries, but the city council recommended going above that and allowing another two

Stockton Community Development Director David Kwong said there are already two applicants being evaluated since the day after the voters approved the new dispensaries.

During public comment there were several complaints on how the application process was handled.

“I just got the email yesterday, so there wasn’t a added public notice. They should really go back to the practice and the background checks for the required stuff,” said Ron Bernasconi, who sent in his application for a licensed dispensary.

The council came to a conclusion to expand the timeline for more applicants due to misinformation on due dates.

“The key word tonight is confusion, confusion on how they were going to communicate the availability of licenses to potential applicants, and even tonight the proposals were only possible to fix. We should have more options to choose from. We could’ve talked easily for four more hours on this,” said City Council member Dan Wright.

During the year the City Council will hold further meetings on these new policies and discuss the legal cultivation sites in Stockton.