Reefer Madness…In Bishop! – The Sheet

In spite of Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana cultivation and sale in California, the plant remains controversial in some circles. 

Like amongst Bishop City Council. 

The question of permitting a marijuana dispensary within city limits was on the Council’s agenda Monday. The debate was lively, though no air punches were thrown. 

City Council last debated the issue in 2017, after passage of Prop 64, and ultimately voted to ban marijuana dispensaries within the City of Bishop. 

At the time, Council rejected a proposed ordinance, approved unanimously by the city’s planning commission, that would’ve have authorized marijuana sales in town. 

Councilmember Jim Ellis brought the discussion to the table this time around, telling his fellow councilmembers that he’d been approached by people inquiring about the ban and wanted “to see where council and the public is on this.”

The discussion on Monday was just that, a discussion, with no action item or vote on the topic. Further action on the matter could be undertaken at the board’s behest.

Councilmember Karen Schwartz kicked off the conversation asking about revenue associated with legal pot sales, adding, “If the revenue is so minimal that it doesn’t make sense or it’s this huge number, then we want to consider the costs and the benefits of a dispensary.”

Mayor Laura Smith tacked on an additional question about law enforcement costs associated with keeping things fully legal. 

While staff was unable to provide a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis on Monday, Bishop City Administrator Ron Phillips explained that there are currently two marijuana dispensaries in Inyo County. Those dispensaries generated just under $100,000 in tax revenue in FY 2017-18, just over $115,000 in FY 2018-19 and generated close to $320,000 in FY 2019-20.

Presently, Bishop receives none of that revenue, as the dispensaries in question, while near Bishop,

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