Faith community squashes bid to allow legalize retail marijuana sales in Lathrop

Lathrop residents looking to purchase cannabis will still have to drive to another community to do so.

On Monday night the Lathrop City Council voted 4-1 – with Councilwoman Minnie Diallo dissenting – to deny a series of changes to the city’s ordinances that would have allowed for a single cannabis dispensary to open in the community.

Facing heavy opposition from Lathrop’s faith community – comprised mainly of members of Thrive and New Life churches – the council opted not to make the change to the city’s existing ordinances that have long been among some of the most stringent in the region.

If approved, the ordinance changes would have allowed for a single dispensary to operate within limited industrial or general industrial zones – with a 1,500-foot buffer from Lathrop Road and Spartan Way and Spartan Way and Golden Valley Parkway.

It would have also included a 600-foot buffer from schools, daycares, and youth centers, and would have needed the approval of the Lathrop Police Chief and a conditional use permit. The Police Chief would have had the ability to require a staff permitting system for the dispensary and had the ability to conduct routine inspections to ensure that all regulations were being adhered to.

Just recently did the city begin discussing updating its ordinances to be in compliance with Proposition 64 and the regulatory framework that its passing created. While the law allows for individual residents to grow up to six mature plants for personal use, Lathrop has long prohibited the outdoor growth of marijuana – even for medicinal use.

In California, cannabis that is sold commercially must be tracked from the time that the seed that goes into the ground to the time that it’s sold to a retail customer. The stringent regulations are intended to prevent black market cannabis, which is grown without the safeguards required for commercial businesses, from flooding into the market and tainting the safety controls established by the State of California’s cannabis regulatory arm.

While other communities throughout Northern California have looked at commercial cannabis as a revenue-generating addition to the community – imposing excise taxes that are intended to offset the public impact from the addition of such a business – the lure of easy money in the city’s coffers wasn’t enough to win over the council.

During a special meeting held specifically for the ordinance change, the Lathrop City Council voted 4-1 – with commissioner and former councilman Steve Dresser casting the lone dissenting vote – to recommend that the council approve the changes.

Earlier this year Lathrop held a community discussion to gauge the public temperature for making such a change and determine what residents wanted to see in the community, and the City of Manteca has held several in recent months as they consider the possibility of making a similar change.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.

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