Indio City Council talks medical marijuana dispensaries

December 19th, 2013 | by Tatiana Sanchez | Comments

The Indio City Council discussed whether they'd consider lifting the city's ban on medical marijuana dispensaries down the line.

The Indio City Council discussed whether they’d consider lifting the city’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries down the line.

 The Indio City Council re-visited discussion of medical marijuana dispensaries on Wednesday.

Indio City Attorney Roxanne Diaz briefed the City Council on the most recent federal and state developments about medical marijuana and what these regulations mean on a local level.

Currently, the city of Indio bans medical marijuana dispensaries.

Diaz’s update was meant to get the council thinking about whether they want to continue the current ban in their city or consider allowing them down the line.

She added that most cities that have banned the dispensaries are sticking with that ban.

“There are a lot of things to take into consideration when it comes to this,” Diaz said.

Diaz said the dispensaries, if allowed, could bring “secondary issues” to the community, such as public safety or public nuisance threats, plus the potential for illegal drug transactions, all-cash business operations and medical marijuana card scams.

Indio Police Chief Richard Twiss said there’d be a higher likelihood that people would walk into these businesses armed.

Council was split on the issue.

“I don’t want to close the door on it,” Councilwoman Elaine Holmes said.

Councilmen Glenn Miller and Sam Torres agreed, adding that if there’s a need in the community for these dispensaries, they’d be willing to look into it.

“What we probably should first do is do some community outreach…to find out if there’s a need for it,” Torres said. “I wouldn’t mind exploring it further.”

Councilwoman Lupe Ramos Watson, however, said she doesn’t want the city discussing the issue at all right now.

“If and when the law changes, we would certainly reconsider, but at this time, I don’t want to waste staff’s time on this,” she said.

Mayor Michael Wilson agreed.  “We need the staff time for other areas,” he said.

The discussion took place on the same night that the Palm Springs City Council approved 4-1 a 10 percent pot tax rate for the three legal medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, effective Jan. 1. Illegal dispensaries will be required to pay 15 percent of their proceeds to the city.

Council also approved issuing of a fourth dispensary license.

Palm Springs is the only city in the Coachella Valley that allows medical marijuana dispensaries.  

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