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Civic Auditorium

The Hanford City Council meets inside the Hanford Civic Auditorium.

HANFORD — With the ever-changing landscape of cannabis regulations and laws across the state, the Hanford City Council is moving forward with some possible changes to the city’s own ordinances.

At the Hanford City Council meeting Tuesday evening, members gave consensus to look into changing some of the city’s previously established ordinances and maybe even allow dispensaries.

In 2017, Council adopted an ordinance that established cannabis regulations and zoning for any cannabis businesses that would locate in the city. At that time, Council also limited the type of cannabis to medical only and prohibited dispensaries from locating within city limits.

Community Development Director Darlene Mata said Hanford’s current ordinance has inconsistencies with state regulations that became effective on Jan. 1 of this year. She asked if Council if they would like to make minor language changes in the municipal code to be consistent with the state’s changes, which they were in favor of.

After opening up for applications and going through a thorough review process in late 2017, the Council awarded 26 cannabis permits to three different companies — Caliva, Genezen and Premium Extracts.

Since that time, Mata said both Caliva and Premium Extracts obtained conditional use permits for their respective sites in Hanford’s Industrial Park.

However, Mata said Caliva is the only business that has moved on to get a building permit and has been issued cannabis permits for manufacturing and distribution. She said Premium Extract’s conditional use permit will expire this year if they do not move forward with a building permit, and Genezen has pulled out.

Mata said she continues to receive calls from cannabis business owners asking if the city would consider opening up the application process again.

“There is room for us to open up and have additional cannabis business,” she said.

Another issue brought up was that even though Hanford does not allow dispensaries to locate in the city, state laws allow for cannabis deliveries to be made anywhere.

A benefit of having a dispensary locally would be tax dollars staying in Hanford. Dispensaries can be storefront or non-storefront dispensaries.

Rand Martin, a representative of Caliva, was in attendance at the meeting and told Council they are proposing a non-storefront dispensary out of their location in Hanford to do deliveries. He said all of the sales would generate tax revenue back to Hanford, no matter where the deliveries go.

Councilman Francisco Ramirez was in favor of not only amending the ordinance to allow recreational cannabis, but also possibly allowing dispensaries to locate in the Industrial Park.

Mata said if that was something the Council wanted to pursue, the city would have to establish a zone to allow dispensaries and change regulations to address dispensaries and how they would operate, since right now they are not allowed in the city.

The dispensary in Woodlake, which has been open for less than a year, generated $229,000 for that city. Mata has visited that dispensary and said it was a very professional establishment.

Police Chief Parker Sever said he has spoken to other agencies and also visited dispensary sites and noted that they are not problematic for law enforcement. He said they are highly secure and have great surveillance systems.

After all was said and done, there was a general consensus from Council for staff to look into changing the ordinance language to be consistent with the state and possibly allowing recreational cannabis production; opening up the cannabis permit application period again; adopting regulations for cannabis deliveries; and looking into allowing dispensaries.

Mata said she would begin working with professional consultants to make sure all the city’s cannabis ordinance language and content is consistent with the state and look into options as far as types of dispensaries are concerned.

She said she would come back to the Council in a couple months with all the new changes and information.

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2423 or jzavala@hanfordsentinel.com

News Reporter

News reporter for The Sentinel

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