A southern California town plagued with crime and financial destitution is now considering the legalization of medical marijuana dispensaries in hopes that the community can sustain its deteriorated police department with the use of pot taxes.
Just a few hours east of Los Angeles, the small city of Desert Hot Springs is pondering the idea of lifting its seven-year ban on medical marijuana dispensaries to generate some much needed revenue that city officials believe will not only pull the town out of desperate times, but will also salvage their local police force.
It is for this reason the City Council is expected to approach voters next month with a new proposal that will allow medical marijuana commerce to exist within the city limits. Most importantly, at least in the eyes of Council members, the measure will address imposing hefty taxes on the city’s newfound pot industry, which could include a three-way toll of 10 percent on sales, $50,000 for a permit and five percent on cultivation.
Desert Hot Springs banned medical marijuana dispensaries in 2007 after a small shop called Organic Solutions of the Desert opened for business in the middle of town. The ban ultimately drove the dispensary, owned by Jim Camper, into the nearby town of Palm Springs, where he continues to operate with much success.
“It’s just hilarious,” Camper recently told USA Today. “It just shows you that more and more society is going this way. Middle America is turning to pot. You see it every day.”
Not surprisingly, although there is a potential for dispensaries like Organic Solutions to open for business in Desert Hot Springs, some residents are not excited about the possibility.
“Yeah, the city will get millions of dollars in revenue, but it’s going to hurt the overall population,” said Judy Shea, who works with local alcoholics and drug addicts. “We’ve worked so hard to clean up this town, and now we’re going to cause more drug addiction.”
Shea says the idea of using medical marijuana taxes to pay for the local police department is hypocritical on the part of the city. However, others argue that medical marijuana is just another legal revenue source for the town, not any different from bringing in a Wal-Mart.
Desert Hot Springs officials say the return of medical marijuana dispensaries is inevitable.