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Palm Springs OKs Draft of Pot Ordinance

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
The city of Palm Springs is poised to become the first and only place in Riverside County to allow medical marijuana collectives and cooperatives.

Palm Springs City Council members voted 3-2 Wednesday to create a draft ordinance allowing medical marijuana collectives and operatives.

Councilwoman Ginny Foat and Councilman Lee Weigel voted no, saying they disagree with some of some ordinance details.

The law would:

Allow only two collectives in the city's industrial areas.

Prohibit the establishments within 1,000 feet of each other and within 500 feet of schools, churches, public playgrounds or parks, youth centers and residential areas.

Allow collectives and cooperatives to grow medical marijuana on the premises.

The council will consider the new ordinance, and if approved, will take effect 30 after the vote.

The city has six dispensaries operating illegally and another was waiting for the council's vote.

Mayor Steve Pougnet said these dispensaries “took advantage of the system” and should not be grandfathered in.

City Attorney Doug Holland said the city can take action against the currently operating dispensaries.

City Manager David Ready suggested a lottery to choose which two collectives will be allowed to operate in the city.

“I am in favor of having a small number (of collectives),” Councilman Rick Hutcheson said. “It gives a great deal of security to patients because there is strength in numbers.”

Weigel said that while he is sympathetic to patients who say they need medical marijuana, he is concerned the collectives could jeopardize public safety.

He said the number of collectives should be limited to less than three. Instead, he said there are seven in the city and another three waiting in the wings.

“(I am afraid) the collectives will grow like weeds (without a limit),” Weigel said. “I don't think we've got 10 coffee shops in the city.”

Palm Springs Police Chief David Dominguez said there have been two documented crimes related to the collectives in the city. He suggested that employees of collectives receive background checks by the police department and video surveillance be installed in and outside of the collective.

Foat said she was pleased that with seven collectives, there have been just two documented crimes. She said she supports grandfathering in the existing collectives via a permit. She voted against the draft ordinance because it was too exclusive.

The law allows nonprofit collectives and cooperatives “by right” in areas of the city zoned for industrial use, meaning the dispensaries need only a regular business license. Foat said these can be scary areas after dark, however, with limited police presence.

Some who spoke during the public comments part of the meeting agreed.

“I am concerned about access. I hope (patients) feel safe there,” said Tom Swann, president of Veterans for Peace.

Several who spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting commended the city for being on the forefront of jurisdictions that allow medical marijuana collectives and operatives.

“I am very proud of the city to have have this discussion,” said Joy Meredith, president of Main Street Palm Springs, the downtown and uptown merchants' association. Meredith was a member of the task force that helped draft the city's ordinance.

Stacy Hochanadel, who operates CannaHelp, said it's been a long hard road to get to this point. He suggested that all operators in the city come together once a quarter to discuss issues and network.

“I am so proud,” he said.

News Hawk: User: 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: MyDesert.com
Author: Stefanie Frith and K Kaufmann
Copyright: 2009 MyDesert.com
Contact: MyDesert.com | Palm Springs Customer Service | The Desert Sun
Website: Palm Springs OKs draft pot ordinance | MyDesert.com | The Desert Sun
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