Woodlake Mulls Pot Options

The Woodlake city council held a public hearing June 12 to discuss the possibility of a cannabis growth site and dispensary. During the hearing, approximately 50 Woodlake residents were present, along with all members of the city council, including Woodlake Mayor Rudy Mendoza and Woodlake Police Chief Mike Marquez.

Approximately six members of the public spoke, two of which were not residents of Woodlake. One Fresno County resident told the city council about the crime uproar during the alcohol prohibition in the 1920’s, comparing that to the illegalization of cannabis today. He explained the revenue the city of Woodlake could increase, along with a drop in crime.

Helen Chavez, a Woodlake resident and the first member of the public to speak, expressed her frustration with the city’s watering ordinance. Directing her frustration at the city council, she suggested she was told, “no washing your vehicles–period.”

According to the watering ordinance, you may wash your car on your scheduled watering days.

Chavez also expressed her concern about cannabis to Woodlake’s Chief Marquez, stating, “Woodlake PD gives me false info” regarding California’s marijuana restrictions.

According to the state, you may only carry 1 ounce (or 8 grams of concentrates) and personal use cultivation of up to six plants per residence for adults 21 and over.

Although Mayor Mendoza did not publicly express his thoughts on the legalization of marijuana, he stated, “Unfortunately, the reality is, the state of California has legalized it”.

Another Woodlake resident, one of two representing the older generation, expressed his disapproval for cannabis by saying, “The state let us down, don’t you guys let us down.”

According to a Woodlake City Council staff member, over 60 cities have taken this first step to legally welcome cannabis.

During a portion of the PowerPoint that was provided at the meeting, the proposed cannabis measure for the city may do the following: tax commercial cannabis cultivation at an amount not to exceed $25 per sq/ft or 10% of gross receipts; tax cannabis dispensaries, manufacturers, and distributors at an amount not to exceed 10% of gross receipts; require extensive background checks on all cannabis businesses and all cannabis industry employees in Woodlake; require reimbursement for any city expenses accrued while providing administrative duties related to cannabis business permitting, limiting the number of dispensaries allowed in the city of Woodlake; allow city access to all cannabis businesses’ transaction and financial documents to guarantee local and state laws are being followed; put revenue generated from cannabis businesses in a fund to be used for parks, police, and general services.

Unlike the minimum zoning requirements that the state of California has put in place, requiring all cannabis-related businesses are at least 600 ft away from schools (K-12), Woodlake went even further with its proposed ordinance, stating that cannabis-related businesses must be 1,000 ft away.

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