Desert Hot Springs council mulls ban on pot dispensaries

February 05, 2007

K. Kaufmann, The Desert Sun

A new medical marijuana dispensary in Desert Hot Springs is facing pressure to close as the City Council considers a moratorium tonight on allowing dispensaries in the city.

Organic Solutions of the Desert opened recently at 11-924 Palm Drive and has applied for a business license from the city.

The City Council will vote on an emergency ordinance putting a 45-day moratorium on the licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries.

The council meets at 6:45 p.m. at the Carl May Community Center, 11-711 West Drive.

The dispensary is now open three days a week, Friday through Sunday, said owner Jim Camper.

He'd like to be open five days a week, Camper said, but "I can't do it unless the city gets off my back."

Camper first applied to the city for a business license in November, said his attorney, James Anthony of Oakland.

"I'm not personally opposed to (medical marijuana). I think there has to be a proper venue for it, and I'm not sure Desert Hot Springs would be the most appropriate one," said Mayor Alex Bias. "Our community is already viewed as being a drug area anyways with methamphetamine. It's something I'm going to have to do some soul searching on."

Desert Hot Springs would be the fifth city in the Coachella Valley to pass a moratorium on dispensaries, following Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Indian Wells and Coachella.

If the council votes for a moratorium, patients and advocates will ask that Organic Solutions be grandfathered in and allowed to remain in business, said Lanny Swerdlow, president of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project.

"If you don't like dispensaries, what are the alternatives?" Swerdlow said. "What are you going to do to see patients get their medicine?"



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