After being flooded with applications from budding entrepreneurs to open marijuana stores, Moreno Valley officials are poised to revisit the cap they set in spring for dispensaries and consider whether to significantly increase the number.

In March, a few months after recreational marijuana became legal in California, the Moreno Valley City Council established a framework for regulating marijuana in the city of 210,000 and decided to allow no more than 27 businesses.

That total includes eight dispensaries, eight cultivation centers, five manufacturing plants, two testing facilities, two distribution centers and two microbusinesses — small, one-stop shops that combine several elements of cannabis enterprise.

Most of the limits matched or exceeded the number of “eligible” applications received, the big exception being dispensaries. City Manager Tom DeSantis said the city received 23 such applications for retail outlets — 15 more than the limit.

DeSantis said provisional permits were issued to a total of 16 firms across all business types. The eight retail permits were determined by lottery, he said.

According to a report, on Tuesday, Oct. 16, the City Council is set to weigh four options presented by city officials:

  • Leave the caps unchanged
  • Boost them to allow all eligible applicants to operate
  • Raise the overall limit to 50 and the retail cap to 30
  • Allow an unlimited number as long as applicants comply with state and local law

The 6 p.m. meeting is Tuesday in the City Hall Council Chamber, 14177 Frederick St.

Mayor Yxstian Gutierrez said Friday, Oct. 12, that he could not say how he might proceed.

Councilman Jeffrey Giba, who is challenging Gutierrez in the mayor’s race to be decided next month, said he will oppose increasing permits.

“We have 51 square miles in our city. Where are 50 of these going to go?” Giba said. “Marijuana is not a good thing for our city.”

In March, he voted against the plan to open the door to a limited number of entrepreneurs.

Giba said he foresaw that the city would get more applications than available permits. And he said applicants who lost out in the lottery threatened to file suit over the matter.

Another mayoral candidate, Mary “Dr. Mack” McBean, said caps should be raised.

McBean said she knows some applicants who were denied permits.

“These are young entrepreneurs,” she said, adding that they deserve an opportunity to do business in the community.

Mayor and council races will be decided Nov. 6 — as well the fate of the related Measure M, which would establish a city marijuana tax of up to 8 percent on sales at retail outlets and $15 per square foot of cultivation. The measure would generate $2.2 million per year, DeSantis said.


Retail: Applications, 23; available permits, 8; permits issued, 8*

Manufacturing: Applications, 2; available permits, 5; permits issued, 2

Cultivation: Applications, 2; available permits, 8; permits issued, 2

Distribution: Applications, 2; available permits, 2; permits issued, 2

Microbusiness: Applications, 3; available permits, 2; permits issued, 2*

Testing: Applications, 0; available permits, 2; permits issued, 0

TOTAL: Applications, 32; available permits, 27; permits issued, 16

*Permits determined by lottery