Monday, August 17, 2009
Lake Forrest Marijuana Dispensary News
City trying to weed out marijuana dispensaries
Lake Forest says marijuana dispensaries are not allowed, but at least 10
have settled in city.
By SALVADOR HERNANDEZ
The Orange County Register
Friday, August 14, 2009
Watch video of burglars breaking into marijuana dispensary -
http://video. ocregister. com/m/25875554/ no-lights- for-these- bumbling- mari\
LAKE FOREST – Despite efforts to keep medical marijuana collectives
from springing up, dispensaries continue to settle in business districts
and shopping centers, taking advantage of Lake Forest's
At least 10 marijuana collectives are doing business in Lake Forest,
setting up in office spaces that often go unnoticed by the city.
Though Lake Forest adopted an ordinance prohibiting any business that
does not adhere to both state and federal laws, many of the dispensaries
have taken advantage of the city's laissez-faire policy where businesses
are not required to register with the city.
There are about 50 marijuana dispensaries throughout the county. But
many of the businesses have clustered themselves in Lake Forest,
including three marijuana dispensaries that sit just feet from one
another in the second floor of a shopping center on Raymond Way -- less
than 1,000 feet from an elementary school.
And though federal law prohibits the use and sale of marijuana, some
dispensaries appear to be operating without meeting even state
standards. Of the 10 dispensaries that were reviewed by the Orange
County Register, four could not be verified as holding a state seller's
permit – one of the guidelines set forth by the state's attorney.
When contacted and asked about a seller's permit, employees and owners
either declined to comment or did not return requests for comment.
City officials said they have attempted to shut down some dispensaries
and have sent letters to businesses and landlords. But efforts to shut
them down have so far been unsuccessful.
"To my knowledge, they're still operating," said Scott Smith, attorney
for the city.
Most dispensaries low profile
But while some dispensaries maintain a low-profile, one has taken a
"Why am I going to be open and all these people are getting right next
to me, not abiding by the same law," said Monica Hernandez, manager of
the Lake Forest Alternative Center.
Since her collective opened four months ago, Hernandez has e-mailed back
and forth with city code enforcement and attorneys, requesting an
ordinance regulating marijuana collectives be adopted.
"Briefly, the City makes no distinction between any of these uses –
including your own – for we uniformly prohibit all uses which
violate State or Federal Law," wrote Lou Kirk, Lake Forest code
enforcement supervisor in an e-mail to Hernandez.
When he first asked the city about opening marijuana collective, Albert
Maraz said officials told him it was not allowed in the city. Months
later, he found that several dispensaries had opened and he began
looking for a space.
But a lack of ordinances regulating dispensaries, landlords eager to
rent commercial space and the fact that no business registration is
required has drawn some dispensaries that cut corners, break the law,
and crowd around shopping centers, Maraz said.
"The whole city is basically open because the city is not doing
anything," Hernandez said.
Don't make waves
While Maraz said his business follows state guidelines by charging sales
tax and verifying the recommendations of their patients, some do not, he
said. When he requires patients to bring in the original recommendation
from their doctor, instead of a copy, some patients point out that other
nearby dispensaries don't have such requirements.
"It's sad for the movement," he said.
Some managers of dispensaries said the relationship with the city has
been more of a quiet agreement; as long as there aren't any problems and
a low profile is maintained.
"It's don't ask, don't tell," Hernandez said.
City officials disagree.
Smith, the city's attorney, said the city is currently working on a new
strategy to have dispensaries shut, although he said he did not want to
specify how at the moment. And though some dispensaries are acting
according to state law, city ordinances still prohibit businesses that
are illegal under federal law.
"I'm basically paying them (taxes) to tell me I can't be here,"
http://www.ocregist er.com/articles/ city-dispensarie s-marijuana- 2529005-l\