Desert Hot Springs is expected to take the final steps necessary in letting medical marijuana dispensaries set up shop in the city Tuesday night when council members vote on a series of ordinances.
The City Council has already approved ordinances allowing the dispensaries, which come back for a second reading and vote on Tuesday at its 6 p.m. meeting.
Still to be decided is how many shops will be allowed at first. Council members are divided on whether it should be three, five or an unlimited number of shops.
“I think it will be either four or five,” Mayor Adam Sanchez said Sunday.
Mayor Pro Tem Russell Betts doesn’t want to set limitations.
“I think the application process will narrow it down,” Betts said.
There are about six interested dispensers who have attended every council meeting on the subject and Betts said he’d like to see all be able to open a shop, if they qualify.
Police Chief Chuck Maynard asked for some limitation at least in the beginning, giving the police department time to determine if it has enough resources for more.
Sanchez and council members Jan Pye, Joe McKee and Scott Matas have been split on whether to allow three or five dispensaries.
Council members have also agreed also to use a points system rather than a lottery for deciding the order in which applications will be vetted.
Those that meet all of the city’s the mandates will then go to the Planning Commission for a conditional use permit.
“One thing that’s been brought up by the council is to give some credit to local businesses,” Sanchez said. “If there are Desert Hot Springs business people who have the resources already to open a dispensary, we’d like to give them points for that.
“It’s important for us to get people to shop here and leave their money here,” Sanchez said.
Betts, however, said he doesn’t understand how “local” is determined when the city doesn’t yet have any dispensaries.
“Select the most qualified and put them through the process,” he said.
Desert Hot Springs is the third city in the Coachella Valley to allow medical marijuana dispensaries. Palm Springs just approved a fourth shop and Cathedral City is in the process of vetting permits for its first three dispensaries.
Tuesday’s City Council meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Carl May Community Center, 11711 West Drive.