SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — Officials in Santa Ana on Wednesday began accepting applications from people interested in opening up medical marijuana facilities.
Voters approved Measure BB allowing for the legal sale of medical marijuana in Orange County.
Santa Ana was the first city to accept applications in Orange County.
CBS2’s Michele Gile said more then 75 people lined up at City Hall and applied for the licenses Wednesday.
She reported the applications will be available for the next 30 days.
The applications will be carefully screened, she reported, before about a dozen will be selected to open for business.
“The voters passed this overwhelmingly with 75 percent approval,” said Vincent Sarmiento, Santa Ana Mayor pro-tem. “Many of those voters have family members, or themselves, who are suffering with illnesses and hope that medicinal marijuana will be able to give some relief to them.”
The rules about where the pot collectives can open for business are strict.
They will be zoned in the southern and eastern parts of the city. The dispensaries cannot be located near one another. The stores must also be at least 1,000 feet from parks, schools and residential areas.
Part of the measure also required officials to collect 5 percent to 10 percent of receipts from the dispensaries to pay for additional police, surveillance systems and stepped up code enforcement. The money would also be used to help clear out illegal pot shops that number about 100.
“Before we didn’t have money to shut them down,” says Sal Tinajero, a Santa Ana council member. “We didn’t have the infrastructure to do it. With this now, by allowing them to operate in the industrial zones, we can now collect that extra tax and we have money for enforcement.”
In order to keep the selection process unbiased and transparent the city has hired an outside auditing firm to conduct a lottery to choose among the qualified applicants.
The dispensaries could open as early as April, Gile reported.