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Madera stalwart on pot rejection

The Madera City Council declined this week to further explore or implement any ordinances that would allow the local manufacturing or retail sales of recreational marijuana products.

Under Proposition 64 cities and counties in California can now allow, regulate and tax the growing, manufacture and sale of recreational marijuana and it’s related edible products within their jurisdictions.

The council listened intentlyWednesday night to the last of three detailed presentations regarding the potential impacts adopting ordinances allowing local marijuana manufacturing and or sales could have on Madera.

Lt. Gino Chiaramonte of the Madera Police Department detailed his visits to early adopter cities in Colorado and said crime increases had been minimal in the three cities he reviewed, but the cities had noted among other things, an increase in the homeless population and their more aggressive panhandling after the implementation of the retail sales ordinances.

“Retail sales really seemed to draw the homeless in,” Chiaramonte said. “When asked they even said that was why they were there.” The other issues he noted were smells involved with manufacturing and the difficulty in converting the existing illegal black market marijuana grows into the more restrictive legal, taxable framework.

Some early adopter cities in California have noted as much as $1.27 million dollars in increased sales tax revenue per year had been realized in some cities, according to authorities, with much of that increase initially being spent in ordinance implementation and administration costs.

Some council members had further questions and discussed placing the issue of marijuana on a future agenda for a vote or even on an upcoming ballot for another vote by residents, when Mayor Andy Medellin surprised the room with stern comments.

“Madera voters have already spoken on this issue when a majority voted no on Proposition 64,” Medellin said, referring to last year’s vote on the state measure that decriminalized recreational marijuana growing and it’s personal use. He also pointed out that marijuana growing and use was still against Federal law, and he had serious concerns about public safety and increasing the population of and problems with the homeless.

“I am never against looking at ways of raising revenues that may be beneficial to the city but this still has a lot of unknowns,” Medellin said. “There is no need to be in the forefront of this (marijuana) issue because once we travel down this path there is no turning back,” he said.

The council could revisit the issue at some point in the future, should the local sentiments change.

The Madera City Council meets the first and third Wednesdays of each month, at 6 p.m. at 205 West Fourth Street. The meetings are open to the public.

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