City of Riverbank Votes to Allow Commercial Marijuana Dispensary Despite Council Member Opposition

RIVERBANK -- As Jan. 1 creeps closer, cities across the Central Valley are making their final decisions on allowing commercial marijuana dispensaries within their city limits. The city of Riverbank decided to allow them, though none of the city's council members want dispensaries.

Patterson Road in Riverbank can be rather busy with a movie theater and shopping centers lining the street.

The street's newest addition will be the city's only commercial marijuana dispensary -- an addition not everyone is happy with.

"We asked for public input and we got nothing. Now that it is in somebody's backyard, they are upset that we are even considering it," said Riverbank Mayor Richard O'Brien.

O'Brien says all five members of Riverbank City Council are opposed to cannabis, but they decided Tuesday that not controlling commercial marijuana outweighed the concerns.

"We then decided we had to manage. If we don't manage, someone will do it for us," O'Brien said.

O'Brien pointed to the death of two men at an illegal marijuana grow near Riverbank earlier this fall and a countywide issue with illegal grows as reasons for taking action for safety purposes -- action required after Prop 64 passed last November.

"We are managing a situation that is being handed to us. Again, not one of us were in favor of Prop 64. A lot of the arguments about not having the dispensary here should have been the arguments people were using against 64," O'Brien said.

O'Brien says the location can handle the traffic that will be coming through the area and the lease is only for three years and can be shut down at any time if trouble arises.

"We feel comfortable with what we manage, we know that now everyone is concerned and we'd like to keep talking and keep the dialogue open," O'Brien said.

It's a topic O'Brien knows will bring issues, but one he says he was forced to face head on.

"If we made the wrong decision, we will correct it," he said.

The city plans to also allow a holistic marijuana dispensary as well as a growhouse.