Madera OKs change to cannabis rules, opening door for applications

Following a protracted, months-long stalemate over how to handle vertically-integrated licenses, Madera is back on track to take applications for weed shops.

One final change to Madera’s cannabis ordinance is in, clearing the path for the city to launch its efforts to attract weed entrepreneurs to the growing central San Joaquin Valley city.

After two months of stalemate, the Madera City Council voted 5-1 to hand over authority for application approval of vertically-integrated commercial cannabis licenses from the Council to the city manager’s office. 


Mayor Santos Garcia was the lone vote in opposition Wednesday evening. 

Vertically-integrated licenses combine multiple elements of cannabis production and sales – typically a combination of manufacturing, distribution, and retail.

Previously, Council members Anita Evans and Artemio Villegas joined Garcia in opposition to handing over the authority, creating a stalemate that prevented the amendment from being passed. 

It was expected that the winner of Tuesday’s special election for the empty District 5 seat – which was won by Elsa Mejia – would ultimately break the tie. 

But Evans and Villegas flipped their stances and pushed the amendment through. 

As originally drafted, the City Council had final approval over standard, social equity, and vertically-integrated license applicants.

With Wednesday’s vote, the council will now only have authority over standard and social equity applications. 

Since Madera does not have a limit to the number of licenses that can be awarded for vertically-integrated operations, the application process was effectively non-competitive. 

Now as amended, the city manager’s office will approve all applications that meet the city’s criteria. 

Only the applicant will be able to appeal the decision to the council. 

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