City Council to hear appeal of business leader’s cannabis license suspension next week

A longtime Palm Springs business owner and civic leader who had her cannabis license revoked in October will have an appeal heard before the Palm Springs City Council at its regular meeting on December 9.

Joy Brown Meredith operates a retail marijuana store — Joy of Life Wellness on West Oasis Road — and a grow operation on nearby West San Rafael Drive. She is also the owner of Crystal Fantasy Downtown and has served as president of the city’s Main Street business association for nearly three decades. She was informed of the decision to revoke her cannabis license on October 13, a letter from the city attorney first obtained by The Post in early November shows.

Attorneys for Meredith and the city met Tuesday evening to discuss the appeal process, agreeing that the Council will hear it at its upcoming meeting, scheduled for 5:30 PM next Thursday. A letter from City Attorney Jeffrey Ballinger states that the Council could make a decision on the appeal that evening but might take up to 90 days to issue a ruling.

In the October 13 letter to Meredith, an attorney representing the city alleges code enforcement officers, an investigator from the State Department of Cannabis Control, and patrol officers from the Palm Springs Police Department conducting an inspection at the West San Rafael Drive business on August 12 discovered evidence of marijuana cultivation in Unit 7 of the building. Meredith’s license covers only the adjacent Unit 6.

Code enforcement officers allege that video footage of activity in Unit 7, supplied by Meredith, shows employees “entering the cultivation area filled with plants,” then “cuts out and jumps ahead approximately 39 minutes, at which point the room has been cleared of all plants.”

Meredith told code enforcement staff on September 2 that she never gave permission to begin cultivation at Unit 7 and immediately took action to ban those responsible for the cultivation from the site. However, the city claims text messages and statements reviewed by officers show Meredith “was aware of, and directing the cultivation activities.”

The city is alleging two dozen violations of city and state laws governing cannabis activity.

Meredith is one of the original cannabis license holders in the city, first obtaining a permit to offer medicinal marijuana in 2015. In her appeal, she not only denied the city’s allegations but said there was no requirement to suspend her cannabis license for a first alleged offense.

“[T]he disciplinary guidelines impose a range of potential penalties based on severity including monetary fines,” her attorney wrote. “There is no mandate for revocation or suspension when the purported violation was a first alleged offense without a prior warning or opportunity to cure.”

Her attorney also pointed to her standing in the community as a longtime business owner who has devoted her time to multiple organizations and causes, including 28 years as president of the city’s Main Street business association.

“Ms. Meredith is an upstanding member and pillar of the community and actively volunteers her time to various organizations,” he wrote.

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