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El Centro Medical Marijuana Rules, Budget Approved

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Medical marijuana dispensaries will officially be allowed in El Centro.

The City Council approved an ordinance to allow up to two dispensaries to operate within the city limits after more than a year of discussion.

The dispensaries will be allowed on two portions of Imperial Avenue - from Ocotillo Drive to Ross Avenue, and from Pico Avenue to the northern city limits - and two portions of South Fourth Street - from Interstate 8 to Ross Avenue, and from Heil to Olive avenues.

Two questions remained for the council from last month's discussion having to do with dealing with edible medical marijuana products and mobile dispensaries.

Food with medical marijuana can be sold in dispensaries, but there can't be a kitchen on site, said Planning Director Norma Villacana. There were issues from the county Public Health Department perspective because groups like the Federal Drug Administration don't recognize marijuana as food additives.

Mobile dispensaries will also be allowed, but only under specific instances, she said. Mobile dispensaries are required to be lawful medical cannabis dispensary in another jurisdiction and have an El Centro business license. If a mobile dispensary wants to be in El Centro it would have to be one of the two dispensaries allowed in the city.

The ordinance to allow dispensaries was approved with a 5-0 vote.

$105.7 million budget approved

Through major losses in revenue and pending cuts at the state level, the city of El Centro has a balanced $105.7 million budget.

The City Council approved its budget during a meeting Tuesday that lasted almost to midnight.

The balanced budget presented includes no layoffs or furloughs, said Finance Director Leticia Salcido.

The general fund makes up about $23.7 million of the total, she said. Most of that, about 62 percent, is for public safety.

There are both short and long term issues that look like they will have an affect on the budget, she said.

Short term issues include a reduction in revenue, possible affects from state budget cuts and required payments the city is having to make, Salcido said.

Long term challenges to the budget include an anticipated $2.5 million increase in operational cost because of projects currently under construction or planned in the next few years, she said. There are also anticipated increase in retirement costs.

If the economy continues to decline, the city will have to reduce its costs, Salcido said. However the city is already at minimum levels.

The city would have to either reduce services or cut employees, she said.

Though sales tax are expected to go up a little, federal trends are going down, said Councilman Jon Edney. It's a 'perilous situation.'

"I'm very concerned," he said. "We have nothing left open."

There's not one dollar that isn't being put toward something, except reserves, he said. It's going to be a difficult time.

Mayor Pro Tem Sedalia Sanders was more positive about the budget.

"I guess I'm just the eternal optimist, and I think it will get better," she said.

She said she sees a lot of hope in the budget, especially with some of the project coming through like the aquatic center and third fire station.

"I see a lot of hope. I really do," she said. "We're talking about things that will enhance the quality of life for the residents of this community."

NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Imperial Valley Press (CA)
Copyright: 2011 Imperial Valley Press
Contact: editor@ivpressonline.com
Website: Imperial Valley Press Online - ivpressonline.com
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