Fresno lawmakers grill cannabis shop owners over move near Fairgrounds

Southwest Fresno’s Fresno Farms is looking to change locations, but some on the Fresno City Council could oppose the move.

A company looking to establish a cannabis dispensary in southeast Fresno is moving forward in the process after facing an appeal to its permit, although its future still looks murky. 

Councilman Luis Chavez initially appealed the city’s change of location approval before withdrawing it on Thursday after hearing from the applicant. 


The backstory: Fresno Farms – a cannabis company owned by Yuma Way, which operates several dispensaries across the nation – initially planned to open a retail location at 3849 E. Ventura St. 

  • The city issued preliminary approval to Fresno Farms for its operating license in September 2021. 
  • However, after the city granted preliminary approval the city discovered that the Francine and Murray Farber Educational Campus – which will contain a Fresno Unified high school – was under construction across the street, meaning the dispensary would violate city ordinance of being within 800 feet of a school. 
  • Fresno Farms received approval for a cannabis conditional use permit in August 2022, following city rules that require a conditional use permit before a change of location application can be submitted. 
  • The dispensary submitted its change of location application in April, seeking a move to 4555 E. Kings Canyon Rd. The city issued preliminary approval for the change of location in May. 

The big picture: Chavez, who represents the area, appealed the location change, but after the owners of Fresno Farms spoke to the council during a hearing on Thursday, he withdrew the appeal. 

  • Fresno Farms is not in the clear, though. A major focus of Thursday’s hearing centered on a violation that the company had in a Colorado location. In that instance, a person under 21 was allowed to enter the store, although the transaction did not go through. The company was fined $10,000 for the infraction. 
  • Although Chavez withdrew the appeal, Fresno Farms still has to go through the conditional use permit process once again, and Chavez noted that he may appeal it at that point. 

What they’re saying: While Chavez was lighter on his questioning to the applicants, Councilman Miguel Arias grilled Fresno Farms in his line of questioning, focusing on how they were unaware that the Farber Campus was going to be a school and questioning their proximity to the fairgrounds given the high number of children that attend the Big Fresno Fair every year. 

  • “From my perspective, strike one was your initial location. After your due diligence, after being a sophisticated, experienced land developer, real estate developer, cannabis operator, that you didn’t bother to contact the sole property owner where you’re proposing to open up across the street,” Arias said. “The second strike is what’s on the record, which is a past incidence where minors have been allowed into your establishments.” 
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