Even though the Palm Springs City Council decided at the beginning of Wednesday’s meeting it would not make a decision regarding which medical marijuana dispensary would be awarded the fourth license to operate, this did not prevent dozens of residents from speaking on the many benefits of medical cannabis.
“It’s been difficult to find a product that works for me,” Carolyn Puschek, who suffers from neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors on the skin, told council members during a public hearing Wednesday to review which of eight applicants would be awarded the fourth license. “We need to find somewhere to put some of these dispensaries.”
The council decided it would not make its decision with one council member — Chris Mills — absent.
“It is that important. Every member of the City Council votes on this item,” said Mayor Steve Pougnet.
In March, City Council voted 4-1 to increase the number of dispensaries allowed in the city from three to four and made June 16 the application deadline for the final permit.
The city staff recommended Palm Springs Safe Access, owned and operated by local photographer Robert Van Roo, for the last permit.
However, that location is near the waterpark Wet’n’Wild Palm Springs, and could seem to violate the ordinance’s requirement that the dispensary not be within 500 feet of a public park.
Council may choose to interpret the distance requirement to also include privately held parks such as Wet’n’Wild, said Doug Holland, Palm Springs city attorney.
“Yes, we may get a recommendation from city staff, but we’re kind of famous for not following the recommendation,” said Councilwoman Ginny Foat, following nearly two hours of public comment. “Believe me, there’s no one up at this dais that sees this as a done deal.”
David Andrews Jr., general manger for Wet’n’Wild, disputed the city staff’s recommendation that the city’s fourth dispensary license should be located so close to the waterpark.
“I think Wet’n’Wild is a public place and a public park,” Andrews told the council. “I’d like you to consider us a public park. Just because we charge admission, doesn’t make us not a park.”
“I’m also wondering what exactly the issue is and stigma around my patient base,” said Van Roo, president of Palm Springs Safe Access.
Foat said she does not plan to make her decision based on location alone.
“I am not going to make my decision on this issue, by location,” she said. “We make decisions because of what’s in the best interest of the patients who utilize medical marijuana.”
Other applicants applying for the fourth medical marijuana dispensary license include: Brown Dog Farms Inc., P.S. Organica, Oasis Wellness and Living Collective, Palm Springs Premier Care, Southern C’s, and Jade Organics, Palm Springs Natural Healing Center.
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