City withdraws revocation of prominent business leader’s cannabis license, for now

City attorneys on Thursday withdrew the suspension of a prominent Palm Springs business owner’s license to operate a retail marijuana store and nearby grow operation but are expected to deliver another letter prohibiting her from operating them, possibly as soon as next week.

City Attorney Jeffrey Ballinger said a planned appeal of the original revocation order, sent to Joy Brown Meredith on October 13, will remain on the City Council agenda for December 9, but only because it was already publicly noticed.

“Because the revocation letter has been withdrawn, the appeal hearing next week is, in my opinion, moot,” Ballinger wrote in an email to The Post. “And as such, the Council need not hear it.”

At issue, Ballinger explained, was a claim by Meredith’s attorney during a call Thursday morning that the revocation notice did not adequately describe the full scope of the violations upon which the prosecuting attorney planned to rely at next week’s appeal hearing. As a result, he said, the city’s prosecuting deputy city attorney withdrew the October 13 revocation notice, at least for the time being. 

“I think it is fair to say that the prosecuting deputy city attorney and [a city staff member] continue to believe that violations did indeed occur at the property and that they were of a serious nature,” Ballinger wrote. “As a result, it is my understanding that they will be delivering another revocation letter, most likely next week, more fully describing the violations at the property.”

It was unclear whether Meredith would be able to operate her cannabis businesses while she awaits the potential delivery of another letter again revoking her permit.

In the October 13 letter to Meredith, the city alleged code enforcement officers, an investigator from the State Department of Cannabis Control, and patrol officers from the Palm Springs Police Department inspecting her West San Rafael Drive grow operation on August 12 discovered evidence of marijuana cultivation in Unit 7 of the building. Meredith’s license covers only the adjacent Unit 6. In total, the city was alleging two dozen violations of city and state laws governing cannabis activity.

Code enforcement officers alleged 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.”

Still, Ballinger said Thursday, “there is some dispute as to whether the violations occurred in Unit 6 or Unit 7, or both,” leading the city to step back to more fully explain the allegations.

While the process plays out, Meredith, who also operates the Crystal Fantasy retail store in Downtown Palm Springs, is losing thousands of dollars in potential cannabis sales and paying thousands more in rent at buildings she cannot use. She had held a license to sell marijuana since 2015, when she first obtained a permit to offer medicinal marijuana. 

Meredith’s attorney has 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,” the attorney wrote in an October 26 appeal of the license revocation.

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