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High Times: Fresno Medical Marijuana Could Be on November Ballot

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Fresno’s newly-released budget proposal could have the city seeing green, and that’s not just the color of money.
Fresno voters could decide on allowing medical marijuana shops in a potential November ballot item. And, the city would create two new staff positions involving the dispensaries.
That, perhaps, is the most interesting nugget buried in Mayor Lee Brand’s 2018-2019 budget, which he unveiled today (May 23) during a City Hall news conference.
Neither Brand nor City Manager Wilma Quan-Schecter mentioned anything about the ballot measure or the proposed staff additions. Details of what residents could be voting on are vague.

Cannabis in the Budget

The 436-page budget document calls for the creation of the two positions in the Mayor’s Office — one project manager and one administrative clerk — related to medical cannabis regulation.
The positions “are proposed and will only be funded upon passage of a medical cannabis ballot initiative in the November 2018 election” the budget document reads.
Another line in the budget allocates $150,000 for Fresno County to conduct city elections for three city council races “as well as possible medical cannabis and another potential November ballot measure.”
Last December, the City Council voted 7-0 to instruct staff to craft new laws to allow medical marijuana in the city. The staff has yet to return anything.
That came after a 4-3 vote in August 2017 to ban recreational marijuana shops from operating within city limits.

Billion Dollar Budget

Brand’s proposed budget is $1.115 billion for the city, a 2.6% increase over the FY 2018 amended budget. Of that, $341 million is allocated for the general fund, which pays for most city services such as public safety, parks and most City Hall departments.
As a percentage of the general fund budget, the document states that 69% is devoted to public safety. That’s down from last year’s total of 71.5%.
In FY 2019, 49% of the general fund is for police services, with 17.5% going to the fire department. An additional 2.5% pays for public safety debt service.
Police Chief Jerry Dyer says he has 802 officers under his command, with five more to be added next week and an additional 12 in the training academy. The proposed budget allows for up to 821 sworn officers.

David Taub has spent most of his career in journalism behind the scenes working as a TV assignment editor and radio producer. For more than a decade, he has worked in the Fresno market with such stops at KSEE-24, KMJ and Power Talk 96.7. Taub also worked the production and support side of some of TV sports biggest events including the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and NASCAR to name a few. Taub graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email