SANTA ANA ( — Dozens of Santa Ana business owners are one step closer to being able to legally open medical marijuana dispensaries as a lottery drawing got underway in the city Thursday.

Pending regulatory approval, those participating could be among 20 applicants allowed to legally operate in Santa Ana, a first for Orange County after voters overwhelmingly passed Measure BB (PDF) last year.

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A third-party auditor was hired to hold the lottery to keep the process fair and impartial, officials say.

Santa Ana has meanwhile collected more than $1 million from about 600 lottery applicants.

Legally operated pot shops will be taxed 5 percent to 10 percent of their gross receipts.

There are more than 100 dispensaries operating illegally in Santa Ana; however, and officials hope funds raised through the effort will help crack down on those facilities.

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Applicant Derek Worden says his is one of them, although he pays taxes on the marijuana he sells and his customers must be over 21. But he’s leased a space on Warner Avenue paying three times the going rate, hoping his collective will ultimately be approved.

“We love the tax program. … We want to do things differently,” he said.

Worden says he’s spent over $100,000 submitting more than 50 applications.

His number was chosen as the lottery narrowed down winners Thursday.


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Santa Ana Accepts Applications For Medical Marijuana Dispensaries