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More marijuana dispensaries – 23 instead of 8 — could open in Moreno Valley

Moreno Valley could end up with almost three times as many marijuana stores as first thought.
That’s because the Moreno Valley City Council recently increased — from eight to 23 — the maximum number of permits officials will issue to dispensaries in the city of about 210,000, in response to last year’s legalization of recreational marijuana use across the state.
As a result, Moreno Valley now has one of the most permissive marijuana policies in the Inland Empire.
City spokeswoman Kimberly Sutherland said that, at the moment, no legal cannabis enterprises are operating in Moreno Valley.
Provisional permits have been issued to 17 entrepreneurs seeking to operate dispensaries, Sutherland said. None is ready to open, she said. Each must get conditional-use permits from the city Planning Commission and state licenses before receiving final permits.
The council voted 3-2 on Dec. 11 to increase the number of potential stores to 23. Council members Victoria Baca and David Marquez voted no.
Marquez said the new limit means dispensaries will pop up all over town.
“It’s just going to be like pizza places,” he said. “We have a pizza store on every corner in Moreno Valley. What are we going to do? Have a dispensary on every corner now?”
Marquez said he worries crime will increase in neighborhoods around dispensaries.
“I think we should have left it as it was,” he said.
The limit was eight. That number was something  Councilman Ulises Cabrera proposed in March  and that the council agreed to, in adopting a plan for regulating cannabis enterprises. In the recent vote, Cabrera voted with the majority.
“After months of research, I concluded that allowing the 23 applicants, which received top scores and made it into the lottery, would ensure that only the best businesses operate in Moreno Valley,” Cabrera wrote in an email, when asked why he changed his position.
On Aug. 20, the city held a lottery to determine which eight of the applicants would move forward in their effort to open marijuana stores.
Ultimately, Cabrera said, market competition will determine how many dispensaries survive.
“Although Moreno Valley increased the limit to 23, I believe only about half will successfully open their doors,” he wrote.
New Councilwoman Carla Thornton, elected in November, also voted to raise the limit.
Saying she is a strong backer of business, Thornton said, “I believe the free market should have a chance in Moreno Valley to determine which marijuana businesses can have success.”
Two months before the change, the council rejected the idea of raising the ceiling. Then, on Nov. 13, the council asked city officials to place the matter on a future agenda for reconsideration.
Former city councilman Jeffrey Giba, who lost his bid to be elected mayor in November, said the change “was not unexpected.” Giba said he believes the council raised the limit to prevent a potential lawsuit.
On Oct. 24, about two months after the lottery, attorney Rod Pacheco filed six claims with the city on behalf of six clients who weren’t selected to move forward in the application process. Pacheco, who once served as Riverside County’s district attorney, alleged the city used a “deeply flawed and unlawful process of awarding permits.” A claim often is a precursor to a lawsuit.


Related links

Moreno Valley keeps cap on marijuana dispensaries at 8
Moreno Valley may allow more marijuana dispensaries
Moreno Valley approves comprehensive recreational marijuana package
Inland voters open door to — and agree to tax — marijuana industry
Moreno Valley puts marijuana tax measure on November ballot



According to a city report, the Dec. 11 change opened the way for those who weren’t picked in the lottery to be reconsidered.
The council has decided to issue permits for up to 43 marijuana enterprises in all, including 23 dispensaries, two testing laboratories, eight cultivation facilities, two distribution centers, five manufacturing plants and three “microbusinesses.”
The latter are defined as small, one-stop shops that feature several activities, including sales, growing, manufacturing or distribution.
MARIJUANA UPDATE
Permits allowed: 23 dispensaries;  2 testing facilities; 8 cultivation facilities;  3 microbusinesses; 2 distribution centers; 5 manufacturing facilities; 43 total.
Applications approved: 23 dispensaries; 0 testing facilities; 2 cultivation facilities; 3 microbusinesses; 2 distribution centers; 2 manufacturing facilities; 32 total.
Provisional permits issued: 17 dispensaries; 0 testing facilities; 2 cultivation facilities; 3 microbusinesses; 2 distribution centers; 2 manufacturing facilities; 26 total.
Conditional Use Permit applications filed: 7 dispensaries; 0 testing facilities; 0 cultivation facilities; 2 microbusinesses; 1 distribution center; 0 manufacturing facilities; 10 total.
Source: City of Moreno Valley

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