By Carlos Correa

MODESTO (CBS13) — The first set of marijuana dispensaries to operate within the city limits of Modesto now have permits to begin business. A total of eight pot shops were given the green light and will soon take over existing buildings — many on busy roadways.

The Old Bonzanza Books and Comics on McHenry Avenue in Modesto is now gone. The building is empty and will soon be replaced by the city’s first-ever marijuana dispensary.

“We’re going to see how this goes, we’re going to use this first run of eight to review the process and I guarantee you our city council will be watching very closely,” said Thomas Reeves, spokesperson, City of Modesto.

After almost a year, eight business owners looking to sell cannabis products within city limits were finally granted permission.  Officials said the vetting process was intense.

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“We looked at their proximity to, for example, schools, libraries, and other public locations and so, that was one thing we were scrutinizing was specifically their security plan,” Reeves said.

Since the city council voted last year to approve an ordinance allowing for 10 pot shops – 20 businesses showed interest.  They all went through a background check with security and education as a top priority.

“There is more misinformation about cannabis than good information,” said Jason David, who owns Jayden’s Journey.

The shop was named after his son who suffers from a neurological disorder. His business operates in the county and focuses on healing and hope.

“We have support groups, education. We have about 40 families flying in from other countries, and about 150 families from other states for our medicine,” said David.

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Although city councilmembers reviewed what other cities were doing, they spent the last year making sure the vetting process was extremely thorough. If successful, city leaders say they hope to add more shops down the road.

“I have talked to legislators and lawmakers in the state capitol and they were laughing and said when you guys voted, you knew that when the government got involved in it, it was about money. They were honest and I get it, but these patients need help,” he said.

The city expects to receive $500,000 from the marijuana tax during the 2018-2019 fiscal year and a million dollars next year.

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