Pinedale residents successfully block cannabis shop from opening

Fresno planning commissioners sided with local residents and nixed the second proposed dispensary slated to open near Pinedale Elementary School.

A cannabis dispensary that was set to open up shop near Pinedale Elementary School in north Fresno had its plans shot down. 

Wednesday, the Fresno Planning Commission unanimously voted to deny cannabis company Embarc from opening a location at 7363 N. Blackstone Ave. 


The backstory: Embarc had different plans originally, submitting an application to the city for a dispensary at 1784 W. Shaw Ave. 

  • The city approved that location and granted Embarc a conditional use permit. 
  • But Embarc was delayed in opening at that location because the 7-Eleven location at that it planned on replacing did not move out in time, leading Embarc to shift gears to the Pinedale location. 
  • Embarc already has one dispensary open in central Fresno, located at the southwest corner of Gettysburg and Blackstone. 
  • Pinedale residents and Clovis Unified officials successfully lobbied to block a different dispensary from opening up near Pinedale Elementary School. That one would have been located at 7315 N. Blackstone Ave., which is right across the street from where Embarc sought to open up. 

The big picture: The dispensary’s proposed location would have been 1,000 feet away from Pinedale Elementary School, meeting the city’s 800-foot buffer zone for retail dispensaries. 

  • Yet the Pinedale community came out in force Wednesday opposing the location, arguing that the dispensary would be far too close to the school, increase traffic and cause safety concerns. 
  • City staff had recommended approving the site as Embarc was compliant with all city requirements for cannabis dispensaries. 
  • After hearing hours of public testimony – most of which in opposition to the shop – the planning commission sided with the community. 

What they’re saying: “Drugs are being sold to kids in Pinedale tonight, but not by compliant operators who create revenue for the city and operate under the strictest regulations of any business type in Fresno,” Embarc CEO Lauren Carpenter told the commissioners. 

  • The commissioners weren’t swayed by Embarc, instead saying the location could be a “detriment to the neighborhood with being close to the school,” commissioner Brad Hardie said. 
  • “I also think that when we talk about minimum distances from schools, what we need to be talking about is maximum benefit to our children,” said commissioner Kathy Bray. “I’m a grandma and a mother, and so I believe that although the code allows this, is that location I believe it’s too close to the school.”
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