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Lawsuits, fraud charges, 4 licenses left. What’s next for Fresno legal cannabis?

While California cities like San Bernardino has licensed retail cannabis for several years, Fresno is still sorting out the process. (AP File)

What is the future of retail marijuana in Fresno? Seventeen stores are in the process of obtaining conditional use permits, the next step to finally sell the drug legally.

But four licenses are still in play across three different areas of the city.

Two lawsuits, and possibly more, are pending.

One applicant faces fraud charges and has stepped down as CEO of a cannabis corporation.

And, there are complaints about how licenses are awarded, with some people using colorful, four-letter words.

Meanwhile, the City Hall official in charge of Fresno’s cannabis system says the system is a work in progress.

“For being the first one out of the box, 17 out of 21 (to make it through the appeal process)? I’d say we did OK, but it could be improved. So that’s the thing. We’re going to work with counsel to look at the ordinance,”  said Fresno City Manager Thomas Esqueda.

Four Licenses Remain

In August and September, Esqueda awarded the initial 21 licenses, three in each of the seven city council districts as mandated by local ordinance.

As part of the process, councilmembers or the mayor could appeal the licenses. Five were appealed, and only one survived the Oct. 27 hearing — the Lemonnade-branded store in the Tower District.

Esqueda will have the opportunity to grant the four remaining licenses again, but will likely wait until mid-December. That is when new council electoral maps are due. Because licenses are restricted by council lines, Esqueda would rather wait until the new boundaries become official.

The city will consider applicants who made it to the Phase III interview round. If needed, officials will dip down to Phase II, businesses whose applications met city standards but did not score high enough to make it into the next round.

Two licenses are available in District 3 (downtown/southwest Fresno), and one each in District 2 (northwest) and District 1 (Tower District/west Fresno).

To Read The Rest Of This Article By David Taub on GV Wire

Published: November 16, 2021

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