The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday at Hollister City Hall, 375 Fifth St. The sole purpose of the meeting is to hold a town hall so residents can share feedback on the cannabis proposal.
The town hall comes three weeks after the council in April, for the first time, had a majority of members publicly express support for allowing adult-use cannabis dispensaries in the city. Some of the elected officials, though, wanted to hear from residents another time before taking action.
Council members at the April meeting heard a presentation on upcoming, recommended changes to the cannabis ordinance that included allowing adult-use dispensaries instead of just medicinal shops like in the current rules.
Council members Carol Lenoir, Honor Spencer and Rolan Resendiz all expressed support for the concept of adult-use dispensaries during a discussion April 22. Councilman Marty Richman said he is leaning toward supporting the change, while he and Resendiz noted in the meeting how they wanted to see the two approved medical dispensaries in operation before making a final call. Mayor Ignacio Velazquez didn’t say much on his preference at the April meeting, but has previously said he’s willing to support adult-use dispensaries once he sees the medical shops can function properly.
The city currently permits two medical marijuana dispensaries, Higher Level of Care at 1802 Shelton Drive and Monterey Bay Alternative Medicine at 773 San Felipe Road. Neither has opened yet, but they are both expected to do so soon, with one of the shop’s owners saying it’s possible in May. It’s likely there won’t be too much activity at the medicinal shops, however, since they require prescription cards that most users don’t bother obtaining anymore since adult-use cannabis is available in surrounding communities and through deliveries.
In 2016 when California voters passed Proposition 64 – legalizing adult-use retail cannabis – 55.5 percent of countywide voters also said yes to the idea with an even higher percentage in Hollister. That vote came 20 years after legalization of medical cannabis.
In January, the council took up a proposal from City Manager Bill Avera to legalize adult-use shops, but a majority of the council wanted to table the item for a few months and also preferred hearing from residents again before making that decision. Councilwomen Honor Spencer and Carol Lenoir did not appear to see the need for a town hall.
“Again, I’m going to say 68 percent of this town voted to have adult use in this city,” Spencer said in the April meeting. “I don’t understand what the holdup is.”
Leonir had a similar take and referenced only having one speaker, outspoken cannabis opponent Steve Becerra, at the April meeting.
“I just wanted to point out this was a public meeting, a public hearing, and I don’t see anybody here but Mr. Becerra speaking on the issue,” Lenoir said. “When you only have one person come to a public hearing, what’s the town hall going to produce? I don’t like to drag things out.”