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Decision On Plan To Allow Medical Marijuana Put Off

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
The Palm Springs City Council put off a vote Wednesday on a medical marijuana ordinance that would make it the first city in Riverside County to allow dispensaries.

The council voted unanimously to delay a decision until Jan. 7.

The proposed law would allow dispensaries "by right" in areas of the city zoned for industrial or professional use, meaning they would not need any special permit, only a business license.

But for-profit businesses would not be allowed. Instead, they would have to be organized as nonprofit collectives or cooperatives as specified in the medical marijuana guidelines that state Attorney General Jerry Brown issued in August.

The law also would prohibit dispensaries within 500 feet of schools, public playgrounds, parks or residential zones, or within 1,000 feet of another dispensary.

The law would not protect dispensaries or patients from prosecution under federal law, which bans all possession, sale or use of marijuana.

California's medical marijuana laws allow patients with a doctor's recommendation to grow and use limited amounts of the drug.

The city's Planning Commission last month voted to recommend an even broader law that would allow dispensaries in all nonresidential areas if they obtained a conditional use permit.

But the staff report going to the council recommends the more limited approach to allow the city to evaluate how the law is working.

Stacy Hochanadel, the owner of CannaHelp, a dispensary currently operating illegally in the city, said he favors limiting dispensaries to industrial and commercial-manufacturing zones.

CannaHelp is located in a commercial-manufacturing area.

"That would help to regulate the number of collectives coming to town," Hochanadel said. "We feel comfortable with that; the patients and collectives feel comfortable with that, too."

The council's decision could affect ongoing operations at the city's five medical marijuana dispensaries, all of which are now operating illegally.

The Collective Apothecary of Palm Springs, Community Caregivers and the Holistic Collective of Palm Springs are all located on Palm Canyon Drive. CannaHelp is located at 505A Industrial Place, and the West Valley Patients Association is at 19-486 Newhall St. in North Palm Springs.

The dispensary issue has been a contentious one in the Coachella Valley since the first dispensaries opened in 2005.

Palm Springs first passed a moratorium on dispensaries in March 2006, but allowed it to expire earlier this year.

Coachella and Desert Hot Springs also have moratoriums, while Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta and Palm Desert passed dispensary bans.

Riverside County also has a ban in force for unincorporated areas.

News Hawk: User: 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Desert Sun, The (Palm Springs, CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Desert Sun
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