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Rancho Mirage Could Be Forced to Allow Marijuana Dispensaries

Adrianna Weingold

Rancho Mirage Could Be Forced to Allow Marijuana Dispensaries

CREATED Mar. 13, 2012

RANCHO MIRAGE--The city of Rancho Mirage is one step closer to being forced to allow marijuana dispensaries in the city.

A judge ruled Tuesday that the city has to consider issuing a certificate of occupancy to the Desert Heart Collective. That doesn't necessarily mean they have to let the dispensary open.
The California Supreme Court has not yet decided whether cities and counties can ban dispensaries altogether, but today an Indio judge did rule that Rancho Mirage must treat pot dispensaries just like any other business applying for a license.
A bitter sweet day for medical marijuana users in Rancho Mirage. The one and only dispensary once operating in the city forced to close down over a year ago, but today an indio judge ruled in favor of desert heart collective. 
"You have to process their application. Before we didn't even process it. We said it's a violatin of federal law, that doesn't require you to approve it. You can deny the application if you have other grounds other than conflict with federal law,"said Rancho Mirage City Attorney, Steven Quintanilla.
Under the judge's orders the city of Rancho Mirage has to at least consider Desert Heart Collective's appplication for a certificate of occupancy. Owners of the Desert Heart Collective wouldn't speak to KMIR on camera but did tell us Tuesday's decision is a hopeful one, their attorney's calling it a huge step forward.
"Well I think it's a good thing because there are a lot of people that need the medical marijuana that have  a need for it and I think that every town in the valley should have at least one dispensary," a Rancho Mirage resident said.
This resident didn't want to show her face but said she worked with terminally ill patients for years, medical marijuana was the only thing that made them feel better.
"A good majority of those patients were on chemo meds which would make them very very sick and they couldn't eat and they couldn't sleep, there were patients there that I know that was the only relief they could get," she said.
Still other residents worry drugs will bring crime to Rancho Mirage
"I just don't think the young people should be subjected to it really," a Rancho Mirage resident said.
It's also one of the main arguments the city's giving for not wanting Desert Heart Collective to be allowed to re-open.
"We saw all these potential negative effects such as burglaries, drug dealing, prostitution, you name it, it was all in there. This was a report done by the police chiefs association," said City Attorney Steven Quintanilla.
The parties head back to court in June.
--Adrianna Weingold