Moreno Valley officials set the stage for a full range of legal marijuana businesses to open in Riverside County’s second-largest city while limiting the total number of commercial pot enterprises to 27 — eight of them dispensaries — in passing a comprehensive package Tuesday, March 20.
The widely anticipated move comes as the city is in the process of shutting down illegal pot stores.
City Attorney Martin Koczanowicz said that since last summer the city has discovered 20 dispensaries operating illegally in Moreno Valley and shut down 15, and is now working to eliminate the other five.
Although recreational marijuana has been legal in California since Jan. 1, Moreno Valley had yet to issue a permit because it was still working on a regulatory package.
In adopting the package of ordinances and resolutions on Tuesday, however, the Moreno Valley City Council paved the way for rolling out one of the more permissive marijuana programs in the Inland Empire. The council voted 4-1 to pass the measures, with Councilman Jeffrey Giba voting no.
The council set caps on the number of firms that may receive permits to operate in each of six business categories, and limited them to certain commercial, industrial and business-park zones.
The council rejected a call from public speakers to increase the total number of allowable dispensaries, and decided to shave the staff’s proposed target of 10 dispensaries to eight, upon the suggestion of Councilman Ulises Cabrera.
The council is expected to give the final green light to measures in two weeks.
In anticipation of approval, city officials said they intend to accept online applications from prospective operators April 2 through May 11, then begin reviewing applications.
On Tuesday, the council agreed to contract with HdL Companies of Diamond Bar, which has experience administering marijuana programs in California, Colorado and