Cannabis · Madera

Madera’s cannabis push stalls out at the one-yard line

Once again, Madera’s future pot shops are kept waiting as the city council did not muster up enough support Wednesday evening to pass the city’s cannabis business permits ordinance. 

There is a resolution on the horizon, however. 

Needing four votes to pass, the measure failed on a 3-2 vote as Councilman Steve Montes, who has previously supported bringing cannabis to Madera, was absent due to an illness. 

Without Montes, Mayor Santos Garcia and Councilman Artemio Villegas were able to block the ordinance from passing with their opposition. 

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be held on Dec. 1, meaning the ordinance will not be passed for at least another two weeks. 

The delay follows several months of tension and gridlock that has plagued the council and the process. 

Two weeks ago the council finally broke through the stalemate when it approved the city’s handling of vertically-integrated commercial cannabis licenses as Villegas and Councilwoman Anita Evans broke ranks to pass it. 

That opened the door for the council to finalize the whole process on Wednesday with a vote of approval that ultimately did not materialize. 

Before the vote, Garcia gave his reasons for not supporting the ordinance, stating concerns about corruption with the vertically-integrated licenses. 

As approved by the council last time, vertically-integrated licenses will be approved by the city manager’s office and will not be appealed by the council since the unlimited number of such licenses makes it effectively a non-competitive application process. 

“This has been a long time issue in the city of Madera,” Garcia said. “There’s always been some shape or form of corruption in Madera, and by allowing vertical integration to not be checked, and for us not to disclose that we’re in the business of vertical integration I think is wrong and it leads to that.” 

After the motion failed, Councilman Jose Rodriguez asked Villegas if he would make a motion to reconsider the vote in order to push it through Wednesday. Only Villegas or Garcia could make such a motion as the people who voted the ordinance down. 

“I would ask Councilmember Villegas also if you’d like to comment on that and maybe possibly reconsider,” Rodriguez said. “If we can make this happen tonight, I think it’d be a benefit for the community. I know that all of us pretty much had a really strong position as far as why, I understand why you don’t want to do it Mayor, but Mr. Villegas can I hear your comments as well?” 

Villegas’ answer: “I want to bring it back when we have all the votes. I don’t want to reconsider it right now.” 

If the resolution ever passes, Madera will award up to six standard retail cannabis licenses, as well as two social equity licenses.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.