CBS47 Investigation: Hanford City Council green lights second marijuana dispensary near facility that helps teens get off drugs

CBS47 Investigates

HANFORD, California (KGPE) – An update to a CBS47 Investigation, by a vote of 3 to 2 Tuesday night, Hanford City Council members gave the green light for a second marijuana dispensary to build in the city.

The problem, it plans to open near a Westcare facility, which helps troubled kids get off drugs like marijuana.

City staff say all they are doing is following the law.

The second dispensary will be built on the 400 block of 7th Street.

However it’s less than 600 feet away from a Westcare facility, which is a place that provides mental health treatment, social services along with rehabilitation from substance abuse.

Westcare staff say this facility in particular helps veterans and kids.

But according to the city’s parameters, this is not considered a youth center.

Hanford Community Development Director Darlene Mata says, “The Westcare facility that has been discussed in the past is not youth facility by definition in our code or state code.”

Hanford city officials say the Westcare facility functions more like a doctor’s office, which is exempt.

Both Westcare and the owner of the building which westcare operates out of disagrees.

They tell CBS47, the council was following the recommendation by the Hanford city attorney.

Dennis Fausone, who owns the Westcare building, says, “It’s his opinion, and the opinion is the key word. In our opinion and my opinion it has been a youth center for the past 12 years. Their primary objective is to counsel our youth and get them into programs and help them become productive citizens.”

Westcare staff told CBS47 besides seeing doctors, there is a youth center on the lower level, a place for kids to engage with each other, and therefore should be protected by state law.

Fausone claims he was even offered money from marijuana dispensaries to move Westcare out.

He says, “If it wasn’t a youth center or belong in a sensitive area, why on earth would anyone offer us money, that just doesn’t compute.”

Business owners in the area say they have mixed feelings about the new dispensary.

CBS47 spoke with Harvest, the company that won the permit.

A representative states, “In terms of security, various studies across numerous states with both legalized medical and/or adult use cannabis have found that crime surrounding dispensaries actually decreases.”

The statement goes on to read:

“Harvest is excited to bring an adult use and medicinal cannabis dispensary to the City of Hanford. Our mission is to improve lives through the goodness of cannabis and Hanford will be no different. We are pleased to be a part of the mixed-use zoning district that Hanford has designated for the two downtown retail dispensaries. As approved by the Hanford City Council, our location on East 6th Street between North Green Street and North White Street meets all requirements under the laws of California and Hanford City Ordinances in regards to proximity to sensitive use operations. “

Fousone says he plans to contact state officials and is even consider filing a lawsuit to stop the process.

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