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Fresno City Council Puts Pot Tax Before Voters

Fresno City Hall (file photo)
Joe Moore
Valley Public Radio
file photo

The Fresno City Council voted 5-1 today to put a tax on marijuana dispensaries and related business before voters this November.

The tax proposal comes at the same time that the city is studying a change to zoning laws to allow a limited number of medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in the city.

Police Chief Jerry Dyer says he’d like to use some of the money from the tax to step up the city’s enforcement of illegal marijuana dispensaries, other drug dealers and human traffickers.

Dyer 1: “One of the things that has occurred is there is this medicinal demand but there is no accessibility in our community, unless it’s through the black market, through neighborhood dealing, through illegal dispensaries.”

Dyer says there are currently as many as 70 illegal dispensaries operating in Fresno.However, the chief also warned the council not to get - in his words “greedy” - with a steep tax on cannabis, like some other communities.

Dyer 2: “I’m confident that if we can keep the cost of legal cannabis in our city at an affordable level, that that alone will draw people to those facilities and away from the illegal dispensaries in our city.”

Steve Brandau was the lone vote against the plan. He said he supports medicinal dispensaries, but called the language of the proposed tax too vague. Councilmember Garry Bredefeld was absent from the meeting.

Joe Moore is the President and General Manager of KVPR / Valley Public Radio. He has led the station through major programming changes, the launch of KVPR Classical and the COVID-19 pandemic. Under his leadership the station was named California Non-Profit of the Year by Senator Melissa Hurtado (2019), and won a National Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting (2022).