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Anaheim Court Decision Rejects Federal Preemption Argument

Category: Dispensaries | Posted on Fri, August, 19th 2011 by THCFinder

Cities continue to waste tax payer money and limit medical marijuana patients from obtaining their meds.

August 18 - In its long-awaited ruling in Qualified Patients Association vs. the City of Anaheim, the California Court of Appeals ruled that Anaheim could not use federal pre-emption as a grounds to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. The court struck down a lower court decision that had sustained a demurrer to QPA's suit against Anaheim on the grounds that dispensaries were illegal under federal law.
 
On a second issue, the court found with the city of Anaheim as to whether the QPA could sue on the grounds that the city's ordinance violated the state Unruh Act by discriminating against them on the basis of a disability or medical condition. The court ruled that the Unruh Act did not apply.
 
The court remanded the suit of Qualified Patients Association to the lower court, reinstating the plaintiffs' cause of action seeking declaratory judgment on whether Prop. 215 and SB 420 pre-empt the city's ordinance.
 
The bottom line is that it remains an open question as to whether local dispensary bans are illegal, but federal preemption is not a valid argument for declaring so.
 

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Million-dollar maybe

Category: Dispensaries | Posted on Thu, August, 18th 2011 by THCFinder
Sacremento is happier going broke than working to help medical marijuana patients obtain their legal medication. If they are so content with trying to put dispensaries out of business then I see no reason they shouldn't be going after pharmacies, cvs stores and any other places that let people pick up their medication. Why do they think they can pick and choose which state laws to follow?
 
Sacramento County rolls the dice on a ramped-up, seven-figure enforcement strategy to put dozens of medical-cannabis dispensaries out of business
 
Why is Sacramento County, instead of raking in millions via taxes and fees, spending millions to shut down its medical-cannabis dispensaries?
 
That’s what attorney George Mull is wondering on the heels of last Wednesday’s board of supervisors meeting, when staff recommended spending $1.1 million over the next nine months to ratchet up enforcement against its pot clubs.
 
“I think it’s the biggest waste of resources I’ve seen in the county in a long time,” he said, arguing that it will be “more expensive for them than they can possibly imagine.”
 
Sacramento County says pot clubs are operating illegally, despite state law that permits the collective distribution of medical marijuana, and is threatening fines of up to $1,500 a day for zoning and building-code violations under the new plan, in addition to liens on property holders.
 
Mull, an attorney with the California Cannabis Association who’s worked on drug-policy cases since 1993, calls this the “million-dollar switch”: He says instead of spending millions, the county could collect upward of $4 million to $6 million annually via permit fees and taxation.
 
This money would go a long way, he points out. The county deficit this fiscal year was a click more than $90 million, and the county has laid off more than 1,300 employees since 2008.
 
Meanwhile, new pot-club-enforcement efforts will include hiring four more code-enforcement staff, plus another county counsel, and will be paid for with a combination of fines, loans and general-fund dollars.
 
County code-enforcement head Steve Pedretti says letters explaining the new approach will be sent out to dispensary operators and their landlords “in the next few weeks” and that enforcement will commence “very soon.” The board of supervisors will approve the new expenditures in September.
 
It’s a risky move—a million-dollar maybe, perhaps?—and one that many say might end up costing the county millions in wasted funds and litigation.
 

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Medical Marijuana Operation To Reopen In Lake Elsinore

Category: Dispensaries | Posted on Wed, August, 17th 2011 by THCFinder
A Lake Elsinore medical marijuana collective that was ordered to close earlier this year has been granted a stay to reopen for business.
 
According to Luis “Carlos” Stahl, the collective’s co-owner, the court-issued stay was granted last week. Lake Elsinore Code Enforcement Manager Robin Chipman confirmed the city has also received notification of the stay.
 
The collective -- which has gone by the names 420 Hitters, Lake Elsinore Medical Collective -- and also R Side Medical, is owned by Stahl and his son Eric. The operation, which was ordered closed in March, was last located at 31760 Casino Dr., Suite 102.
 
Speaking by phone Monday afternoon, Carlos said he and his son plan to reopen their establishment somewhere in the city this week.
 
“We will probably reopen in the same place on Casino Drive,” he said, but noted the operation could be relocated. “We have a lot of options, but we put the most money into the Casino Drive location.”
 
In December 2009, Lake Elsinore City Council members voted to approve a ban on medical marijuana operations in the city and the Stahls were subsequently ordered to close. But the constitutionality of such bans is being challenged statewide and many legal experts say the prohibition presents a legal quagmire that may eventually be taken up by the state Supreme Court.
 
For their part, the Stahls say they will continue to persevere for as long as they can. Their collective has operated under a city-issued business license in different locations throughout Lake Elsinore, but earlier this year the city revoked the license after it was discovered the collective was distributing marijuana to its members.
 
Carlos contends his business license did not prevent him from selling medical marijuana to his collective members, and he says he has been the victim of harassment and that ongoing police raids have been initiated by City Hall.
 
In March, search warrants were served and three arrests made by sheriff’s deputies in connection with a four-month long investigation of the collective. Among those arrested was Carlos's wife and Eric’s mother, Carol Stahl.
 
While the city is currently evaluating its legal options under the recent court order, Chipman said the city will abide by the stay.
 
“This is much bigger than Lake Elsinore,” he said of the laws surrounding medical marijuana.
 
In the meantime, Chipman said the court may have prevented the city from enforcing the ban against the Stahls, but they will be required to follow all other city codes wherever they decide to reopen.
 

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Newark pot club owners charged with multiple felonies

Category: Dispensaries | Posted on Wed, August, 17th 2011 by THCFinder
Apparently Newark thinks wasting tax payers hard earned money makes more sense than working with medical marijuana patients to obtain their medication which the state has said is 100% legal. When will cities learn they are not above state law!
 
NEWARK -- As the co-owners of NBD Collective were getting ready last week to reopen the Tri-City area's lone marijuana dispensary, authorities were working to put them in jail.
 
Teddy Miller and Bob Uwanawich, whose cannabis club was raided and shut down seven weeks ago, have been charged with more than 25 felony counts, authorities said.
 
The pair, out on $100,000 bail each, is scheduled to face those charges Aug. 25 at the Fremont Hall of Justice, said Teresa Drenick, an Alameda County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman.
 
Miller and Uwanawich each are facing five counts of conspiracy to possess marijuana for sale; five counts of conspiracy to sell marijuana; possession of marijuana to sell; selling marijuana; 14 counts of felony employment tax fraud; and misdemeanor charges of failure to obtain workers' compensation insurance and of improper employment of security personnel, authorities said.
 
Three NBD Collective employees, who authorities would not name, are charged with felony conspiracy to distribute marijuana.
James Roberts, the dispensary's San Jose-based attorney, said his clients have done nothing wrong.
 
"I'd like to see some evidence of criminal conduct, because the affidavit they filed sure didn't have any," Roberts said.
The charges were filed Friday, one day after NBD Collective reopened.
 
It had been closed since June 28, when Newark police and the Southern Alameda County Major Crimes Task Force
raided the pot club and arrested Miller and Uwanawich.
 
Three psychic businesses -- two in Fremont and one in Salinas -- also were raided in connection with the dispensary.
Roberts said that nothing out of the ordinary was discovered in the raids.
 
"There was $3,000 in cash -- that's not a large figure for a collective -- and they didn't find a large amount of cannabis," he said.
According to a 2008 state Attorney General's Office report, NBD is allowed to possess 8 ounces of marijuana and six mature pot plants per patient.
Roberts accused the task force of being more interested in seizing the collective's money, 65 percent of which the task force can keep, he said.
 
Michelle Gregory, a state Department of Justice spokeswoman, said the pot club in the city's Old Town district was raided for a simple reason: "We go after them because they're breaking the law," she said.
 
The embattled collective also is fighting to stay open on another front -- one involving its long-running legal battle with the city of Newark.
City officials say the dispensary's owners never applied for the proper paperwork and need to file for a land-use permit because Newark does not allow that kind of business.
 
"They have ignored our process from the get-go," said Terrence Grindall, Newark's community development director. "Their original and continued approach has been a straight-arm to the city."
 
A Newark Planning Commission meeting scheduled for July 12 to consider NBD's permit was postponed at the club attorneys' request.
When city officials issued an administrative citation against the dispensary, NBD's owners took the matter to court, where a Fremont judge dismissed its lawsuit to overturn the citation.
 
The pot club's attorneys have appealed that dismissal, and the issue is winding its way through the state's court of appeals, Roberts said.
City Manager John Becker said Newark's zoning laws are straightforward, but the collective's owners have been determined "to stay in business as long as they could because these dispensaries make a lot of money."
 
City officials were surprised that NBD's owners decided to reopen and are keeping a close watch on the situation.
"There are all kinds of directions we can go," Grindall said. "We need to enforce our laws. And we will."
 

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Judge rules to keep medical marijuana dispensary open

Category: Dispensaries | Posted on Tue, August, 16th 2011 by THCFinder
VISTA — A second favorable ruling by Judge Earl Maas of Vista Superior Court on Aug. 12 allows the North County Collective medical marijuana dispensary to remain open until the Sept. 9 hearing that will determine if the collective can continue to do business. Maas first OK’d the dispensary to remain open during the wait for its hearing on July 27.
 
“We’ve won another battle but the war remains,” attorney Lance Rogers said.
 
North County Collective director John Scandalios considers the ruling as a clear victory. “The judge ruled I can stay open until Sept. 9,” Scandalios said. “The city can’t shut me down today.”
 
In court, declarations of support from over 200 North County Collective medical marijuana patients were presented. Neighboring businesses on Coast Highway 101 said the collective is a good neighbor and has ”cleaned up” the surrounding community.
 
“They are operating in full compliance with the medical marijuana law,” Rogers said.
 
Despite the ruling, the city of Oceanside may still go forward with charging the collective fines of $2,500 a day for operating a business without a license.
 
“The stay is irrelevant, the city will enforce this law,” said Annie Perrigo, Oceanside assistant city attorney. “It’s a misdemeanor to operate a business without a license.”
 

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Murrieta Marijuana Dispensary Shut Down by Judge

Category: Dispensaries | Posted on Fri, August, 12th 2011 by THCFinder
A medical marijuana dispensary that was open less than two weeks in Murrieta was shut down indefinitely Thursday by a Riverside judge.
 
Judge Craig Reimer ruled in favor of the City of Murrieta, granting a preliminary injunction against Cooperative Medical Group, or CMG Outreach.
 
The dispensary, located at 26690 Madison Ave., Suite 103, is too close to Sky High Party Zone, an indoor play area with inflatable jumpers, the judge ruled. Sky High's owner told the court that 500 children a week frequent the play center.
 
The ruling stated that crime increases near medical marijuana dispensaries, and that CMG therefore posed a threat to the public safety and welfare of the children.
 
On July 16, the dispensary was burglarized.
 
The injunction follows a restraining order obtained by the city on July 22 after Police Chief Mike Baray asked City Council to declare it a public nuisance. The declaration was approved unanimously.
 
The cooperative is licensed from the State Board of Equalization to dispense marijuana for medical purposes. While medical marijuana is legal in California, many municipalities have banned dispensaries from operating.
 
The ruling states that CMG violates city law, as Murrieta implemented an ordinance in 2005 banning dispensaries.
 
CMG is appealing the judge's decision, according to court records. A court date was set for January.
 
The dispensary owners could not be reached for comment Thursday; nor could their attorney.
 

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