Jim Todd has solid credentials as a mentor of young people.
He spent 20 years coaching and teaching. He is also a pastor.
From his perspective easier access to recreational marijuana to the point that Manteca is exploring the possibility of becoming the first San Joaquin County city to allow storefront sales sends the wrong message.
“Man-tweeka — they’d love to have it right on Yosemite,” Todd told the Manteca City Council last week.
Man-tweeka was the moniker Manteca was given when meth was a much larger issue than it is today. At one point many of the second floor efficiency apartments in downtown Manteca had a number of tenants that were using drugs prompting police and others to refer to the various living quarters as Meth Manor, Tweeka Towers, and Heroin Heights.
While Manteca has moved beyond that to a large degree, Todd’s concern is allowing store front marijuana sales will revive the labeling of the Family City as Man-tweeka.
His comments came following an earlier meeting where the council established an ad hoc subcommittee of council members Gary Singh and Jose Nuño to explore the issue of storefront sales. The intent is for then two-member committee to educate themselves on the pros and cons by talking to those on both sides of the issue, and then making a report with possible recommendations to the council.
Councilwoman Debby Moorhead stressed that she only voted — as did the rest of the council — to explore the issue further and not necessarily move in that direction.
And while Mayor Ben Cantu and Moorhead said the ad hoc meetings that consist of a non-majority of the council will be open to the public, Singh on Wednesday said that will not be the case.
He said the two council members want to educate themselves and seek out the pros and cons on both sides of the issue before getting into any debate. Once they’ve done that, they will prepare a report to present to the City Council sometime early next year. At that point a recommendation may be made. If it is, Singh would want to see a series of community meetings to get input.
Todd warned that storefront pot sales, if they follow the trend in many other California cities, will likely have only a minimal increase in city revenue. At the same time he sees “parasitic issues” that will require more police enforcement thus more expense to city taxpayers.
Todd said he understands the positive impacts marijuana and related products have with people that have chronic pain or who are dealing with cancer.
Noting that Modesto allows such storefront sales, Todd asked “why bring it to Manteca when people can just mosey down the road to get it.”
Also state law now negates the City of Manteca’s ordinance banning the delivery of marijuana by a legal operator meaning it could be ordered on-line by someone in Manteca and delivered to their home. Manteca also allows the growing of pot for personal use as required by state law with specific restrictions.
It is the ability of Manteca to set its own standards such as regulating how and where marijuana can be grown for personal use that is one of the motivating factors for Singh in exploring the issue of storefront cannabis sales.
He noted there is already talk on the state level to change
existing law to allow the universal sale of pot in storefronts throughout California.
Singh would prefer the city have as much control as possible in regulating how
such sales take place before the state takes away their options.
Singh also believes legal storefront sales could reduce crime somewhat by cutting into illegal street sales. Given the pot sold in licensed storefront has to be tested, he said it would better insure public health. The string of deaths from the vaping of marijuana has been connected with products that were not legal to sell as they had not been tested.
Singh, unlike Cantu, doesn’t believe there will be a windfall of money from legalizing shorefront marijuana sales. Instead he sees the value as a way to reduce crime and improve public health and safety.
Still, Todd believes making it easier for people to buy marijuana in Manteca doesn’t bode well for the city’s image. Based on his interactions with students, athletes and others over the year he also believes easier access to marijuana “will pave the way for other issues.”
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org