By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Prior to start of 5 community input workshops, mayor says he’s looking forward to signing enabling city ordinance in October
pot shop
Employees at all 10 Perfect Union dispensary locations, including Turlock, are trained in the science of the plant so that they can help customers looking for wellness understand what they're buying and why they're buying it

Mayor Ben Cantu didn’t leave anyone guessing as to how he’s going to vote on legalizing marijuana sales in Manteca.

“I’m looking forward, in my opinion to adopting this in October,” Cantu said at Tuesday’s Manteca City Council meeting.

His comments came after the city subcommittee of Jose Nuño and Gary Singh that have been exploring the possibility of cannabis sales in Manteca gave their report and Deputy City Manager Toni Lundgren outlined an extensive process designed to gauge community opinion and comments on the municipal proposal.

Cantu made legalizing storefront marijuana sales part of his platform during his successful election as mayor in 2018.

“I’m a land use planner,” Cantu said. “Frankly, I look at this as another business. It’s no different than a pharmacy or other business in the city that is regulated (by the city).”

Cantu contends “negative stigma” has pushed marijuana sales into the black market and created criminal activity.


Breitenbucher: Manteca shouldn’t

be promoting drug sales in town

Cantu’s position was the polar opposite of Councilman Dave Breitenbucher.

“We should not be in the business of having drug sales in town,” Breitenbucher said.

The councilman cited research that noted more than a few cities that have allowed sales in states where it is legal have seen an upswing in black market sales. In most cases it was attributed to the “stigma” Cantu referenced being lifted working in concert with government taxes that made black market marijuana less expensive while at the same time reducing resistance to its sale.

Breitenbucher said he doesn’t want to create a situation where it would be apropos to change Manteca’s city motto to “The Drug Dealer City” from “The Family City”.

“We’re a Family City,” Nuño countered when it was his turn to speak.

He added Manteca had somewhat of a bad image — deserved or not — for years thanks to people playing off its name by calling the city Mantweeka among other things.

Nuño shared his personal thoughts on marijuana were negative although he acknowledged its medicinal properties. The councilman, however, said he will base his decision on whether the community indicates it favors legalizing sales at five upcoming community workshops, the planning commission level, as well as before the council in addition to comments they might forward to elected officials.

Singh generally favors allowing the sale but has always made it clear he wants to make sure it is something the community is on board first with hence the extensive vetting process.

Singh and Nuño have spent months researching what other cities have done, the impacts legalized marijuana sales created both pro and con, and identifying issues the city would need to address.

The effort is being done in tandem with the city’s attorney’s office and a law firm with expertise in the field.

“It’s here,” Singh said. “We can’t close our eyes and pretend it’s not there.”


Halford: Heavy taxes on legal pot

helps drive up black market sales

Councilman Charlie Halford made it clear he’s “not diametrically opposed” to the concept of legalizing marijuana sales in Manteca but said he will need a lot of convincing.

“Some communities have looked at cannabis as the golden goose,” Halford said.

Halford noted attempts to turn legal pot sales into a Mother Lode of state and local revenues have defeated the objective of regulating sales and making sure the products are free of pesticides that can imperil health. That’s because the “add on” taxes in most cases has made legal pot significantly more expensive than black market pot.

Heavy taxes and decriminalization has allowed the black market sales to flourish.

Halford said to regulate pot effectively the city would need to basically charge only fees that would cover the costs it incurs to regulate it.

“I’m not a big fan,” Halford said of legalizing marijuana.

In citing his 32 years in law enforcement including a stint as Manteca’s police chief before he retired, Halford called marijuana a “gateway drug” just like beer is for alcohol.

Council members were advised there are two retail operations they could allow. One would be a storefront with deliveries and the other an operation with a physical location but only providing a delivery service.

It was noted the state taxes 15 percent on the gross receipts along with $9.25 per ounce for flowers, $2.25 per ounce for marijuana leaves and then charges retail transactions the sales tax.

Cities in California have four potential ways to secure revenue if they so choose to implement any, several or all of them.

They include local sales and use tax, a business license tax, and a district tax.

The first of five workshops on the proposed ordinance that includes where storefront sales will be allowed and if there will be any restrictions on how close they can be to other uses such as schools and day care centers will take place Wednesday, May 26, at 7 p.m. at the Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane.

The first workshop will also be livestreamed over the city’s Facebook page.

The remaining four workshops will have varied times and take place on other days including weekends to assure the broadest possible opportunity for community input.

Lundgren said information about the workshops will be posted in the coming days on the City of Manteca website.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email