Coachella weed dispensary fight highlights lax monitoring of laws encouraging minority ownership – The Desert Sun


As more states embrace legal cannabis, the number of people working in the legal weed business is growing rapidly. Wochit, Wochit

A bitter dispute over ownership of a proposed cannabis dispensary and coffee shop  exploded in plain view during a city council meeting, underscoring what some experts say is lax monitoring of California and city laws intended to encourage local or minority ownership in cannabis businesses. 

The Coachella City Council was set to vote this week on a conditional-use permit for the Roots cafe and dispensary, a 4,080-square feet cannabis shop with an adjacent coffeehouse.But after getting an earful from one of the operating partners, the council for now has put off its decision.

The partner is a Coachella resident whose attachment to the project boosted its score during the first round of cannabis licenses issued by the city, because Coachella had adopted criteria favoring applicants with local ties. 

Rosalio “Chuck” Avila, a 31-year-old father of two who operates a car window-tinting business out of his home in Coachella, told council members that he had been excited to join Roots as a partner but now feels he was misled by the company’s founder, Irvine attorney John Scott Russo. Avila believed he was a part owner of Roots and looked forward to manufacturing a line of topical cannabis products named in honor of his late grandmother. 


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Russo represented Avila as a “co-owner” in public meetings during the approval process.  Coachella’s cannabis regulations define an “owner,” in part, as “a person with an aggregate ownership interest of 20% or more” or “an individual who will be participating in the direction, control, or management of the person applying for the permit.”

In an interview with The

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