Added medical pot sites blocked

March 30, 2006

David Hermann, Press-Enterprise

No new medical marijuana dispensaries will open in Palm Springs -- at least not until May 13.

The City Council unanimously approved an urgency ordinance this week prohibiting pot sellers from setting up shop for 45 days while a task force made up of medical marijuana advocates, police, residents and city officials studies how to regulate them.

To the relief of the roughly two dozen medical marijuana users who came to Wednesday's council meeting, Palm Springs' temporary ban allows a dispensary that already is open and another in the process of opening to operate at their current locations pending the results of the task force's work.

Palm Springs had no regulations regarding the sale of medical marijuana, a situation that city officials said could have led to the unchecked proliferation of dispensaries throughout the city.

The city's existing dispensary, the Collective Apothecary of Palm Springs, opened at its North Palm Canyon Drive location without any permits or official approvals.

City officials have said that and other problems, including increased loitering and illegal drug sales near the Apothecary, as reasons that such businesses need regulation.

In addition to studying how the city can regulate dispensaries, the task force will help determine the appropriate location for all of the businesses as well as the hours they should operate, said City Attorney Doug Holland on Thursday.

Holland said under current city codes, medical marijuana dispensaries are not allowed anywhere in Palm Springs. Yet the city has decided to let the existing shops remain in place.

"The idea of a typical moratorium is to preserve the status quo," Holland said. "There are residents in the city that rightly need the medicinal benefits of marijuana, and we don't want to make it difficult for them to get their medicine."

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