COD Trustee’s support for cannabis venture raises eyebrows.

INDIO — As the City Council approved the city’s first cannabis dispensaries last week, they received support for one cannabis venture in particular from College of the Desert Area 1 Trustee Rubén Pérez.

The trustee’s enthusiastic support for Embarc, to be Indio’s five cannabis retail stores, has some constituents, even College leaders, asking whether all that he said is true — and more.

Pérez emailed his comments to the city clerk in advance of the special July 26 City Council meeting and did not speak at the public meeting. His comments are part of the city’s official record. His comments were written on plain, white paper, not College letterhead.

He seems, however. to speak on behalf of the College.

In his comments, Pérez commended city leaders “for implementing retail cannabis as it will bring revenue to the city and provide more opportunities for our students.”

By way of introduction, he said he serves as a Trustee for College of the Desert representing Area 1 and “am a proud member of Embarc Indio’s Community Advisory Board.”

“I really want to highlight how Embarc, who would be an immediate neighbor of the College of the Desert, has already demonstrated their commitment to being a good neighbor and how their presence will benefit the downtown Indio community. Embarc has proactively engaged both the College of the Desert and our immediate neighbors, sitting down with our past Superintendent and members of College of Desert’s leadership team to share their proposals and address any questions to canvassing the neighborhood and receiving great support from neighboring business.”

Whether that’s the official stance of COD is not clear.

“We are currently reviewing any potential implications,” a spokesperson for the President’s Office told Uken Report. “At this time, we are only able to confirm that Trustee Perez did submit a public comment as a written statement.”

Pérez went on to say that “The College of the Desert welcomes Embarc as a neighbor as we have no concerns with Embarc and welcome the increased security, safety and commerce they will bring to the immediate neighborhood. Embarc’s presence will increase safety and security in the area and help contribute to the beautification and the renaissance of Indio’s Downtown.

“Furthermore, Pérez wrote, “we are excited about Embarc’s responsibility to community benefits and their commitment to give opportunities to College of the Desert students who have received their Cannabis Training Certificate from our PACE program as well as other opportunities that will come from a fruitful partnership. I respectfully ask this council to support Embarc Indio.”

Uken Report reached out to Pérez asking him why he felt compelled to speak out in favor of Embarc and asked him if he would like to elaborate.

“It’s in my public comment which I’m assuming you have access to,” Pérez wrote in a text. “You can pull from there. Good day.”

The City Council ultimately voted to allow Stiiizy, West Coast Cannabis Club, Embarc, Culture Cannabis Club and Off the Charts. The council approved permits for Stiiizy, West Coast Cannabis Club, Embarc and Off the Charts in a 4-1 vote, with Mayor Oscar Ortiz dissenting. It approved a license for Culture Cannabis Club in a 3-1 vote, with Ortiz opposed and Councilmember Elaine Holmes abstaining. She owns a business nearby.

Beyond whether what he says is true about the College and its relationship to cannabis is true, residents argue that the optics are bad for an elected official charged with driving under the influence to be promoting a business that has similar effects. He has apologized and said he will do better.

Pérez is scheduled to be arraigned on the charge on Aug. 9. It has been postponed twice.




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  • 2023-Indio-Dispensary-Locations-800×568-Recovered: City of Indio