HANFORD, California – A battle is brewing in Hanford over possibly allowing a marijuana dispensary to open near a WestCare Facility.
It’s a facility where workers say an adolescent services program exists, which helps troubled kids get off drugs like marijuana.
WestCare provides outpatient treatment to youth ages 12 – 17 and support services to their families.
CBS47 uncovered at least six cannabis companies are vying for the last dispensary permit in the city of Hanford.
It was just last month, Caliva was awarded one of the two permits.
Now the city council will decide who will get the final permit.
Dennis Fausone, who owns the building which is used by WestCare says, “If you don’t get this area protected now for what it is, a youth center, you are going to lose.”
Fausone says he questions why Hanford city officials don’t believe its a youth facility.
He says if they did it would prevent a cannabis business from moving in within 600 feet of it.
Fausone says, “We’ve been taking care of the youth for so many years. I just feel like they are being abandoned. We are just not going to put up with it.”
WestCare officials agree.
Shawn Jenkins is the Deputy Chief Operating Officer for WestCare.
He says for 13 years the center has been helping kids and our veterans.
Jenkins adds there is even a drop in center for kids on the lower level.
Jenkins says, “They can comedown and play video games, play foosball. It gives them a place where they can hangout and not get into trouble. A place that is supportive for them.”
Darlene Mata is the Hanford Community Development Director.
Mata says, “We believe that a cannabis facility can be within 600 feet of WestCare because it is not a youth facility.”
Hanford city staff say the facility functions more like a doctor’s office, which would make it exempt.
Mata says, “A youth facility is defined in our municipal code and state law as a facility primarily used to hold recreation and social activities for minors.”
Councilman Francisco Ramirez disagrees.
He tells CBS47 he supports the cannabis industry, but not at the expense of kids.
Ramirez says it’s all about the money!
Ramirez says, “For each dispensary that we are going to develop, strategically there is about a million dollars in annual sales tax.”
The ultimate decision will be up to the Hanford city council to decide who gets it and where it will be located.
The item is on the Hanford City Council agenda for November 5, 2019.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m..