Before even granting a marijuana retail license, Fresno City Council is considering increasing the number of approved sellers.

The current allocation includes 14 cannabis retail licenses – two in each of the seven boroughs. The city code allows that number to be expanded to 21, with three in each district.

The city council is due to vote on an extension to 21 in its session on Thursday. The resolution is supported by the members of the Cannabis Subcommittee: Miguel Arias, Nelson Esparza and Mike Karbassi.

Esparza praises the expansion efforts.

“Fresno will reap the positive economic impact of adding more licenses while staying well below the ratio of 1 retail license per 10,000 residents,” said Esparza. “Within our existing policy framework, cannabis in Fresno is far more regulated and more fairly distributed than the fiasco we had for decades saturating the liquor stores.”

Esparza says that an expansion would benefit “from the economies of scale of the current application process” now rather than later.

Karbassi is not sure if this is the right move. His name appears as a sponsor because he is on the subcommittee.

“I have not yet decided whether I will actually vote for it,” said Karbassi. “My concern is that I see it like alcohol. I am worried about a restricted driving style. I am worried about something that is so new. So I don’t know if I really want more pharmacies, ”said Karbassi.

Is there a demand? City council says weedmaps shows it

Karbassi said information from Weedmaps, a website showing multiple delivery services in the Fresno / Clovis area, suggests that demand could be strong enough for seven more retailers.

“We’re talking about the illegal operations we have now. … There are a lot of pharmacies out there right now, part of the state requirement is that we shut them down and stop selling them illegally. The hypothetical hope for this is that you ensure safe products and good products. Of course we have to get the tax revenue from it instead of someone just selling God knows what, ”said Karbassi.

Esparza, who also teaches economics at Fresno City College, says the city can handle more locations.

“Cities with higher royalties per capita suggest Fresno will have no problem supporting 21 companies,” Esparza said. “It will take the market some time to calibrate as these new facilities roll out and Fresno residents get used to having legal and sanctioned locations for recreational cannabis purchases. If there is a misjudgment, the free market will adjust accordingly at the end of the day, just like in any industry, ”said Esparza.

In this photo taken on Jan. 6, 2018, an employee stores cannabis in a store just before the first day of recreational marijuana sales in San Francisco. (AP file)

Timeline: Interviews now, licenses in December

The estimated schedule – updated last month – shows the social justice applicant interview process starting this week. Retail licenses are awarded in two categories: standard, which covers most applicants; and social justice, when applicants are required to meet certain income and equity thresholds, e.g. B. a previous conviction for a marijuana-related crime.

Out of seven licenses, one or two must be from the social justice category. According to the city, there are 75 applicants for standard retailers and 20 in the social justice category.

The evaluation of applicants against a number of criteria should be completed by August 20th. The conditional use approval process – which sets the standards for how retailers do business in their respective locations – begins August 30th. It should be on. end Dec 3rd

The city council will eventually vote on the issuance of CUPs to the applicants selected by the city manager.

Karbassi expects legal problems after selecting the dealers.

“As soon as we start rating people, people will complain, even though we have these standards there. We are likely to be sued because people say it is unfair, ”Karbassi said.