YUCCA VALLEY – Yucca Valley voters will decide June 2 if the town can have marijuana dispensaries.

The Town Council voted 5-0 Tuesday, March 3, to put a measure allowing marijuana dispensaries on a special election ballot.

According to a staff report, the proposed negotiated measure is substantially similar to a citizen measure that qualified for the ballot, “but with additional provisions to enhance regulations for the protection of public health, safety and welfare, and providing for the town’s recovery of certain fees and costs attributable to law enforcement and other operational expenses affected by dispensaries.”

Councilmen Merl Abel and Robert Lombardo served on an ad hoc committee to study the citizen initiative.

Council member Robert Leone said Yucca Valley had the only legal marijuana dispensary in San Bernardino County until the town government shut it down. In order to save the town the expense of a vote, Leone proposed adopting the negotiated ordinance on the spot. The motion died for lack of a second. Abel proposed putting the measure before the voters. Councilman Rick Dennison agreed he thought it was in the best interest of the town to bring the measure to a vote.

Mayor George Huntington received clarification from staff that the permissible opening hours of 8 a.m.to 8 p.m. was seven days per week.

Yucca Valley voters will read the following measure on their ballot: “Shall the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Authorization and Regulation Initiative Measure be enacted to allow the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries in the jurisdictional boundaries of the town of Yucca Valley at a rate of one dispensary per every 10,000 residents, and attendant provisions regulating such operations?”

With a current population of about 21,700 residents, the measure would allow for two dispensaries in Yucca Valley.

If San Bernardino County does not conduct a countywide election June 2, the measure will appear as a stand-alone municipal election. The measure can pass by a simple majority of those voting in the June 2 election.

Lombardo said after the meeting the ad hoc committee and proponents of the citizen’s initiative worked out details like restrictions on loitering, security concerns and a financial audit.

The complete text of the 26-page Medical Marijuana Authorization and Regulation Initiative is on the town’s website under the March 3 Town Council agenda.

Lombardo added that the petitioners were easy to work with. “I think we came up with a good product,” he said.

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