DesertSun.com-DESERT HOT SPRINGS – City leaders are exploring permitting and taxing medical marijuana dispensaries. If approved, Desert Hot Springs would join Palm Springs as one of two cities in Riverside County to permit marijuana dispensaries to operate.
“A new revenue flow would be good, but we have to think about everything it entails,” said Councilwoman Jan Pye. “I know we are trying to get more revenue as fast as possible, but this is not something we should rush.”
However, there are many medical marijuana patients in Desert Hot Springs who would benefit from local dispensaries instead of traveling to Palm Springs, Pye said.
Pye, whose grandmother suffered from glaucoma, said she believes that “medical marijuana works. When my grandmother was alive, marijuana saved her eyesight.”
“In order to impose a tax, that must be voted in by residents or they can impose a fee of some sort,” said Steve Quintanilla, city attorney in Desert Hot Springs. “Palm Springs imposed a fee that is very similar to a tax, there are different ways to structure it.”
Quintanilla said he plans to contact city attorneys in municipalities, such as Berkeley and Palm Springs, where ordinances for medical marijuana collectives have been created to see how they are regulating dispensaries.
Once the research is completed, Quintanilla, who also has drafted an ordinance in Rancho Mirage prohibiting marijuana collectives, said he will present the city council with a “menu” of options.
An audit conducted last year by Palm Springs of its three legal dispensaries revealed they generate about $4.5 million annually in combined proceeds. And in February, the Palm Springs City Council approved a fourth dispensary, which is expected to open as soon as July.
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