Indio grants licenses to 5 retail cannabis shops

Indio grants licenses to 5 retail cannabis shops

Indio City Council has approved licenses for five retail cannabis dispensaries, marking the city’s first foray into the valley’s cannabis market.

The applicants were selected after a rigorous review process, focusing on community impact, design, local ownership, and public safety. Among the licensees are Culture Cannabis Club, EMBARC, Stiiizy, Off the Charts, and West Coast Cannabis Club. The latter, owned by Kenneth Churchill, already operates dispensaries in Palm Desert and Cathedral City, making the upcoming Indio location his fourth venture.

City of Indio map of cannabis retail licensee locations

“La Quinta and Indio, between the two of them, we’ve got 130,000 people, and right now there’s zero dispensaries for that population,” Churchill said.

West Coast Cannabis Club will be Indio’s only retail cannabis license holder headquartered in the Coachella Valley. The other dispensaries are based out of town but have formed partnerships with local operators. The selection process favored applicants with strong ties to the Coachella Valley and those from Indio itself, granting them additional points.

“We requested local ownership to make sure we were giving opportunities to local operators and also to make sure we were keeping the profits from cannabis within our community,” said Indio Mayor Oscar Ortiz.

While Palm Desert and Cathedral City recently reduced their city tax on retail cannabis businesses to 5 percent, Indio landed on a 6 percent tax rate. Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs remain at 10 percent.

“We’d like to work with the city to try to find a tax structure that’s good for the community, but also doesn’t bleed the businesses dry and allows for them to actually be successful,” Churchill said.

With negotiations underway for a community benefits plan between the dispensaries and the city, the focus is on setting milestones for collaborations with local nonprofits. Additionally, a voter initiative on Indio’s cannabis tax rate is expected to surface in the coming years.

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