Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cathedral City Moratorium on pot dispensaries loses council vote

Rasha Aly • The Desert Sun • April 9, 2009

An “urgency†interim ordinance to establish a moratorium on medical
marijuana dispensaries failed 3-2 Wednesday during Cathedral City's City
Council meeting.

Then, Councilman Greg Pettis brought forth a motion for city staff to write
an ordinance within 60 days to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. It
also failed 3 to 2.

Now, council members are waiting for a report from City Attorney Charles
Green to see if they can vote on another moratorium on medical marijuana
dispensaries without the “urgency†label, which requires a super-majority
vote of 4-1 to pass. Without it, a majority of 3-2 would be enough to

Pettis described the two no votes as a waste of time.

If the urgency interim ordinance had succeeded, it would have led to a
moratorium on the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries and the
distribution of medical marijuana at existing businesses in Cathedral City.
The moratorium would have expired May 23.

No rush

Both Pettis and Councilman Paul Marchand, who voted against the urgency
ordinance, said they saw no reason to be in a hurry.

“We've been discussing this for so long, there's been ample time to get this
done,†said Marchand. He said he has no problem coming up with regulations
on marijuana.

However, Marchand, who also voted for Pettis' motion, worried that putting a
moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries would prolong the issue too
long because council members could extend the moratorium if staff did not
come up with a resolution by the moratorium's expiration date.

Mayor Pro Tem Charles “Bud†England said he wanted to give city staff as
much time as it needs to create an ordinance.

“To force staff to shoestring an ordinance is unacceptable,†England said.

Unlike other valley cities, Cathedral City has no ordinance in the law books
to regulate medical marijuana.

Coachella and Desert Hot Springs have moratoriums, while Indian Wells,
Indio, La Quinta and Palm Desert passed dispensary bans, according to
previous Desert Sun reports. Riverside County also has a ban in force for
unincorporated areas.

In March, the Palm Springs City Council passed an ordinance which allows for
only two medicinal marijuana dispensaries to operate in the city. Those
dispensaries must be located in an industrial or industrial-commercial zone.

City concerned

According to a Cathedral City staff report, city officials are concerned the
heavy regulations adopted by neighboring cities in regulating medical
marijuana dispensaries would prompt some dispensaries to relocate to
Cathedral City. To give staff time to study the issue and enact regulations,
the staff wanted the City Council to adopt an ordinance.

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