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Indio votes to allow cannabis retail, hopes to boost economy & job growth

Indio has become the latest Coachella Valley city to allow cannabis retail.

“If you go to some of our neighboring cities in the valley, you will find some of our residents inside of the dispensaries,” said Indio Mayor Waymond Fermon.

Fermon said it's been years in the making, since California legalized marijuana 6 years ago. “We have a lot of development going on, we understand the pros and cons of cannabis now. And we understand the market demands in our community. So I believe right now was the right time.”

In a 3 to 1 vote on Wednesday, the city decided to move forward with marijuana sales. Cannabis shops will be able to operate daily, from 6am to 10 pm.

Ferman said cannabis sales would not only boost the city’s economy, “it does bring jobs as well. So we want to be able to bring some, you know, some high paying jobs to our residents.”

Background checks will be required for shop owners, however they will not be required for employees.

Fermon said they’re looking into a social equity program. “I think that's gonna also help folks who have been affected by cannabis convictions to work in industry in the city of Indio.”

The city’s big move has even prompted some other valley dispensaries to grow their business.

“We’re trying to look into expanding as well out that way as soon as possible and we’re doing everything. We’re in the early stages to do that,” said Seth Berk, Co-Owner of Palm Royale Cannabis.

Palm Royale Cannabis said business boomed during the pandemic, and that they’re in search for new locations.

“When Coachella was here, you noticed the influx of people. I mean, our business probably increased during those 2 weeks about 15 % to 20%,” said Berk.

However, many valley dispensaries have expressed their frustration with the significant cannabis tax.

“Palm Desert is 10% and it is a little difficult especially when there are areas around here that are not charging the same amount in tax. Makes it unlevel playing field for people like us, where we’re paying our taxes and our fair share every month,” Berk added.

However, Fermon said the city will do its best to work with dispensaries to find a good balance. “I want to be fair with the industry. I do. I do not want to tax the industry out of our cities. So we're listening to them as well. And working with some of them to formulate our policy.”

Right now in western valley cities Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City and Palm Desert, the city tax is 10% of proceeds.

In Coachella, the city tax is 6%.

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Samantha Lomibao

Samantha joined KESQ News Channel 3 in May 2021. Learn more about Samantha here here.

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