Turlock City Council recently presented a special agenda in city hall about accepting cannabis dispensaries in downtown Turlock.
First to speak at this weeks City Council Meeting was City Attorney Douglas White, who stated how it has been a while since California was introduced to the medical marijuana industry with its legalization in 1996 and that Turlock was “behind”, referring to the city’s ban of marijuana operations.
Referring to the nonexistence of cannabis dispensaries in the city of Turlock, White said, “Turlock is a bit behind on addressing this issue. In Stanislaus County alone, Modesto, Patterson, Ceres, Riverbank, and Oakdale have already taken action and have adopted these for over a year.” He explained how cannabis is in Turlock but the source could be regulated with the addition of dispensaries and how many of the people that use medical marijuana prefer directly going to a dispensary rather than having to get a prescription from a doctor.
Back on June 11th, the city council adopted the Cannabis Business Plot Program. This new order allows for up to 4 cannabis retail dispensaries in Turlock with no limit on cultivation, testing laboratories, manufacturing, and distribution with the conditional use of a permit. White added that this program's purpose by presenting the Pilot Program, which restricts dispensaries from being built 600 feet of schools, daycares, or youth facilities.
White also presented Article 7, which talks about the zoning areas where these dispensaries would be allowed. An overlay of Downtown Turlock was shown and green stars represented the locations possible. All cannabis businesses are prohibited except for retail cannabis sales, which are only allowed in downtown Turlock. The idea of dispensaries in downtown Turlock raised concerns in the audience because the downtown area is seen as “the face of Turlock.”
It was evident that members of the council and planning commission were worried about this decision.
City council member Gil Esques joined the conversation and urged those with doubts to visit local dispensaries and see for themselves what they are like. Esques said, “They are completely different from what I expected. These are professional businesses.” He explained how after his research, he decided to support dispensaries in Turlock. He added, “Cities who allow the sale of cannabis have minimal problems. They have more problems with the local buyers than any of the cannabis businesses.”
As of now, there have been 32 applicants for retail dispensaries. Douglas White added that “I think that we are being hypersensitive to the fact that it is downtown. This is what staff is recommending. There was a lot of discussions that went into this; this wasn’t some kind of trivial recommendation.”