The Cathedral City council voted 3-2 to approve an ordinance legalizing medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits. The vote comes after months of discussion and a split council. Cathedral City becomes the second city in Riverside County do so, joining Palm Springs. The vote lifts a ban dating back to 2009. "I believe we have to put forward our own ordinance, that we can at anytime as a council, make the changes that work best for this community," said Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Vasquez.
Vasquez's "yes' vote proved to be the difference, joining Greg Pettis and Sam Toles. The ordinance comes with restrictions on locations and how payment is accepted as well as requirements for distributors. Despite what the majority says, Stan Henry and Mayor Kathleen DeRosa stood ardently against the approval. "The federal government needs to give the some assurance, and this is putting us in harm's way and this is just not acceptable," said DeRosa.
The council also approved a proposal to place a 15% marijuana sales tax on the November ballot. It follows the lead of Palm Springs, where a 10% tax on three legal dispensaries is expected to generate $450,000 annually. While some think the proposed tax is too high, most agree it'll bring some much needed cash to the city. "There would be some tax revenue that would benefit the city, and hopefully it will get back to the police department and areas that would need it, the parks, our roads and keep the money in Cathedral City," said Mark Carnevale.
While the revenue is appealing, many supporters of the ordinance say, this will give sick people the support they need in their own community. "The city can make some money of course off the taxes, but the whole thing in my vision, is the medicine that the customers would need, the patients would need," said Carnevale.
The council will hear another reading of the ordinance at its meeting in August. Mayor DeRosa said she does not expect to see any dispensaries until November or December, if not the beginning of 2015.