West Coachella Valley set for marijuana 'green rush'
On a recent Thursday morning, a crowd gathered in the parking lot of a Desert Hot Springs gas station to welcome the latest new business to the struggling city.
Mayor Adam Sanchez stood in front of the shop's refurbished storefront and cut the ribbon with giant scissors — just as he would for a restaurant, tire store or hair salon — before talking about how perfectly Sun Grow would fit into Desert Hot Springs' healthy "spa city" image.
Sun Grow is the first permitted medical marijuana dispensary to open in Riverside County, outside of Palm Springs.
It's also the first shop to launch as part of a new wave of businesses coming to the western Coachella Valley, contributing to the fast-paced growth of legal marijuana businesses seen across the country.
At least a half dozen more local medical pot stores are expected to follow.
Known as the "Green Rush," a play on the Gold Rush that built California in the 19th century, legal marijuana has grown nationally into a $2.7 billion industry, with half of it in California, according to one industry report.
National cannabis sales for 2015 are expected to climb another 30 percent to $3.5 billion.
"The main draw of this industry is you can make a lot of money if you operate your business well," said Chris Walsh, managing editor of Marijuana Business Media, a company that conducts market research on the marijuana industry and publishes the online Marijuana Business Daily.
"It's not a guaranteed path to being a millionaire by any means," he cautioned.
But the dollars going in and out of a single dispensary can easily reach into the millions. Annual revenues for a store can range from $100,000 for a small operation in a rural area to tens of millions of dollars in a major city, Walsh said.
Sun Grow representatives declined to discuss revenue projections. But they but did say the dispensary was on pace to generate $9,000 in tax revenue for Desert Hot Springs in the first month.
Two states join Colorado as it defends its marijuana law against suit
Washington and Oregon on Friday joined Colorado in defending its recreational marijuana law against a suit brought by two of its neighboring states.
In a filing, Colorado asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the lawsuit — filed by Nebraska and Oklahoma — arguing that it makes a “dangerous use” of legal argument that would leave marijuana legalization in place but largely strip the state of its power to regulate the new industry.
“My office remains committed to defending Colorado’s law,” Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said in a statement. “At the same time, I share our border states’ concerns regarding illegal marijuana activity, and my office, as well as our partner state and local law enforcement agencies, are committed to stopping marijuana diversion. This lawsuit, however, even if successful, won’t fix America’s national drug policy — at least not without leadership from Washington, D.C., which remains noticeably absent.”
In their December lawsuit, the two states argue that Colorado’s recreational marijuana law violates the supremacy clause of the Constitution, which states that federal laws takes precedence over state law, and asked the Supreme Court to intervene. Among the arguments made, Oklahoma and Nebraska suggest that Colorado’s regulation of the industry violated the federal Controlled Substances Act, according to the filing:
Colorado’s commercial marijuana scheme is preempted by the CSA, and is thus null and void. The continued operation of Colorado’s scheme, despite its nullity, harms not just the Plaintiff States, but also the dozens of other States who have seen Colorado-grown marijuana cross into their borders despite state and federal law to the contrary.
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