FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) – Cannabis companies haven’t opened in Fresno for months, but the city is already making a decision to give more of them the green light.

A former Bank of America in Fresno’s Tower District is one of about 75 suggested locations for cannabis retail opening.

The city originally planned to license 14 of them, but that number rose to 21 on Thursday.

The cannabis business will be bigger than originally planned when Fresno finally lets it open.

With the support of Mayor Jerry Dyer, City Council voted 4-3 to grant additional retail licenses.

Councilor Nelson Esparza says the plan is to move Fresno’s cannabis market into the 21st century.

“By that I mean, there is already a very large market for cannabis in Fresno,” he said. “It only works in the shade.”

California legalized recreational marijuana five years ago, and Fresno voters approved marijuana deals nearly three years ago.

Esparza said expanding the number of licensed retailers in the city will help raise a greater proportion of the tax revenue that is currently seeping into surrounding communities that are already enabling retail sales.

The Chamber of Commerce also supports the idea.

“We here at the Chamber of Commerce believe that every dollar we can divert into the legitimate market is a dollar that will be taken away from the black market and that it will absolutely benefit the city,” said Scott Miller, CEO and President of the Chamber of Commerce Of the trade.

Miller says good retail candidates will be good neighbors, and Esparza says there are many good candidates.

But council members Garry Bredefeld, Luis Chavez and Mike Karbassi voted against the enlargement.

Karbassi says he knows it will be lucrative for the city, but worries about the impact of new drug deals on the public, including the potential for more driving pleasure.

“I’d rather we fix the black market before we allow more stores to open and we fix this process too so we can show that we can handle the influx of these new facilities,” Karbassi said.

The city administrator’s office is reviewing all candidates this summer and plans to issue the 21 retail licenses by early December.

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