FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Carl and Jarod Klouse are just two of the dozens of people that braved Monday’s heat wave to wait outside of The Artist Tree – one of Fresno’s first-ever retail cannabis dispensaries.

“Now we don’t have to drive an hour to go get our products and stuff like that,” they said.

Courtney Caron is a Fresno State graduate and serves on the council for The Artist Tree. She says when Fresno voted to allow retail cannabis in the city, she knew she wanted to apply for licensing. 

“This is a freedom that other cities have already started exercising. I knew I wanted to bring The Artist Tree here because of what a special organization it is,” she said.

Legal cannabis is a topic that’s brought controversy to the city for years. Voters passed it on the ballot five years ago, starting a lengthy process of figuring out rules and regulations.

“The city undertook a really extensive process – about two years – as they reviewed and approved applications. We went from about 100 applicants down to 21 in the city,” said Lauren Carpenter, the CEO of Embarc Fresno.

Cannabis products on display inside The Artist Tree.

The city could eventually have a total of 21 retail cannabis shops with a limit of three per district. There is a 4% tax on sales.

“That can be used for infrastructure, that can be used for projects that they have had underfunding for…” Caron said.

Customers like Sandra Berlen expressed relief over no longer having to travel and spend their money in other cities to buy cannabis.

“I feel like as more come in, the business will be booming, you know?” Berlen said.

Customers have to be 21 and show a valid ID or be 18 years old and show a medical license. Both stores have a full team of security.