Friday, December 11, 2009

OC judge weighs in!

Judge denies preliminary injunction against dispensaries

2009-12-11 11:59:22

LAKE FOREST – A preliminary injunction that would have shut down
several medical marijuana dispensaries was denied by a judge today, a
small victory for at least one of the dispensaries that's fighting the
city in court, its attorney said.

"Our plan is to stay open," said Christopher Glew, an attorney who is
representing dispensary owners in court.

City officials say the judge's order is simply addressing a procedural
issue and say he has provided a "roadmap" with exact steps to
permanently close the four dispensaries still involved in the lawsuit.
Four others – once named in the suit –closed on their own.

In September, the city of Lake Forest sued 35 people in the city,
including medical marijuana dispensary owners and retail landowners who
rented space to them. Since then, some of the collectives have shut
down, including one that was raided by the Orange County Sheriff's
Department. The city is involved in several lawsuits, targeting clusters
of marijuana collectives based on their locations and ownership.

In one of the suits, the city of Lake Forest requested a preliminary
injunction to shut down a cluster of dispensaries that were settled
along Raymond Way and El Toro Road. Today, a judge denied that request,
saying that there were no declarations stating that several of the
dispensaries had been served.

Judge David R. Chaffee also singled out 215 Agenda in his decision, the
one dispensary that filed arguments against the injunction in court,
stating that the city needs to provide additional information on the way
businesses were permitted and how this dispensary set up shop in the
first place.

"The judge agreed," said Glew, who is representing Robert Moen, the
owner of 215 Agenda. "We think this is invalid."

Meanwhile, Glew said he and his client were still hopeful the city would
be willing to create regulations that would allow the dispensaries to
exist under state law, though city officials said they plan to move
forward to shut down the dispensaries.

"We'd like to sit down at the table with the City Council and draw
regulations," he said. "We're still trying to peacefully co-exist."

Jeffrey Dunn, representing Lake Forest, said the city plans to re-file
and re-serve its request for an injunction with evidence that
establishes that the defendants are operating without permits. The city
will re-file and re-serve the remaining four marijuana stores: Vale Tudo
Café, 215 Agenda, Lake Forest Community Collective, and Lake Forest
Patients Collective Association. The city will also re-file on the
properties that have recently changed ownership. The city expects this
hearing to take place in January. A fifth dispensary, Evergreen Holistic
Collective – recently opening in a space where another collective
closed – is included in this cluster and are expected to respond
within the next few weeks.

"The city is concerned that these facilities pose a risk to the
community because they attract crime, vandalism and degrade the
commercial value of the property for surrounding businesses," said City
Attorney Scott Smith.� "The city will continue to vigorously
enforce its municipal code to ensure the safety of its citizens and to
maintain the high quality standards found in the business and
residential areas of the community."

City officials have said medical marijuana dispensaries are not
permitted in Lake Forest under the municipal code, which prohibits
businesses that violate state or federal law, and prohibits uses not
explicitly allowed in commercial areas.

Since these facilities are not explicitly allowed in Lake Forest, they
are not permitted within the city, Smith said.

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