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Cash-strapped voted on Tuesday to impose a five percent tax on medical marijuana dispensaries, a measure that will raise $10 million a year.
In Tuesday's election, voters approved the Measure M, under which the city can collect $50 out of each $1,000 that the dispensaries raise by selling medical marijuana.
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The clerk’s office is still reviewing the information on the eight-page form and the supporting documents to ensure that the applicants meet the requirements in the city’s ordinance to qualify for the drawing. Among them, dispensaries must have paperwork that proves they were in business on Sept. 14, 2007, and have at least one of the original operators.
“This is likely to take us a while,” said Holly L. Wolcott, the clerk’s executive officer, noting the office’s limited staff and the complicated requirements in the ordinance. “I have no prediction as to when we will complete this process, but we are working diligently to review each packet.”
The lottery is the latest strategy devised by the City Council on the advice of the city attorney’s office to decide which dispensaries will be allowed to operate legally and to make it easier for the city’s lawyers and police to shut down hundreds of other dispensaries.
The clerk’s office originally said it received 229 applicants. Wolcott said it is unclear whether one applicant met the Feb. 18 deadline, and the office is investigating the circumstances.
When the city adopted a moratorium on new dispensaries, it required dispensaries that were in business when the ban went into effect on Sept. 14, 2007, to register, and 182 did. The City Council chose that same date to use as a cutoff for the lottery.
City officials believe that only about 135 registered dispensaries are still open. But medical marijuana advocates have said many more dispensaries were in business in the city at the time but failed to register, which could explain the number of applications.
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