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Lathrop votes to allow one pot dispensary
pot dispensary
A counter inside a storefront marijuana dispensary.

A cannabis dispensary could soon be coming to Lathrop.

The Lathrop City Council voted 4-1 on Monday – with Councilman Paul Akinjo dissenting – to approve a number of amendments to the city’s existing codes that will allow for a single cannabis dispensary operation to open within the community as long as it fits the parameters outlined by the council and has an approved development agreement with the city.

It marked the second time in three months that the council considered the matter – declining back in September to the do the same thing after the Lathrop Planning Commission voted 4-1 earlier this year to approve the proposal before them.

The decision marks a major change in the city’s attitude towards cannabis in general – outdoor cultivation of cannabis plants was banned even for medical patients with the necessary clearance, and that was only relaxed after California voters approved a proposition that decriminalized possession of personal use amounts of cannabis and the retail sale of it.

The city plans on using Merit Based Selection Criteria as a way to objectively award applicants with the ability to “move forward with the formal application to operate a cannabis dispensary in the city” – a system that will allow staff to review potential operations and make more specific recommendations to the council.

Ultimately it will be the Lathrop City Council that will decide which the applications will get to operate within the city limits.

Lathrop’s new Chief of Police, Raymond Bechler, will also play a major role in the process as a member of the development agreement review committee, and representatives from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office will also be included if the proposal for a dispensary works its way to that level before the city’s contract with the county ends on July 1, 2022.

The issue of legal cannabis – both medicinal and recreational – has been visited by the council multiple times over the years, and the city has held a number of public workshops where members of the community and representatives from the cannabis industry can come express their opinions in advance of the council taking action.

And while the matter has long had champions in the community – especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal reasons and have to drive to either Stockton or Modesto to make their purchases – there are also those that were vehemently opposed to the move.

  “I know you believe this is a great tax revenue, but after all of the extra taxes that go to other pockets and not the city is it really worth the possible life of one of our children or a Lathrop resident? What is a life worth to any of you?” Joyce Dresser wrote in a letter to the council that was distributed for the meeting on Monday. “Maybe you could spend more time convincing a nice restaurant with good food to come to Lathrop and bring in the tax revenue from it.

“You need to think more about your citizens and less about the almighty dollar! Stop slapping us in the face and ignoring what we have to say. You need to listen, before we lose our faith in you.”

Per the council’s approval, cannabis activities within the City of Lathrop will be confined to only the Industrial Zoning Districts in the city, subject to a conditional use permit. Dispensaries will be forbidden in the Regional Commercial zone within River Islands, Neighborhood Commercial, Service Commercial Mossdale Village, and Commercial Office Central. Any dispensary approved by the council will have to be located at least 1,500 feet from the intersections of Lathrop Road and Spartan Way, between the intersections of Spartan Way/Stanford Crossing and Lathrop Road/Harlan Road and Golden Valley Parkway, and between the intersections of Golden Valley Parkway and Spartan Way and Golden Valley Parkway and River Islands Parkway.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.