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Two new lawsuits against Pacific Beach marijuana dispensaries

City attorney revives crackdown, intel gathered from internet

City attorney Jan Goldsmith and the lawyers working for him are back on the hunt to close a new crop of medical marijuana dispensaries now operating in the City of San Diego.

On October 23, the city filed suit against Sanda, Jerry, and Richard Vue for operating two marijuana dispensaries, the Mari-Medic Farmacy and Medicated, both of which are located in Pacific Beach.

The lawsuits are among the first to be filed since January 2013 when former mayor Bob Filner suspended enforcement on medical marijuana dispensaries until a new ordinance was crafted. He stood by his promise and, less than a month later, with recommendations from a medical marijuana committee, proposed an ordinance allowing dispensaries in commercial zones and in some industrial zones.

But the proposal was short-lived and it vanished shortly after allegations arose that Filner was guilty of sexual harassment. The allegations then opened the door for city's code-enforcement officers to go back on the hunt for illegally operating dispensaries.

On July 29, senior land-development investigator Kim Wallace-Ross and combination building inspector Robert Cervantes investigated a complaint that a marijuana dispensary was operating at 841 Turquoise Street in Pacific Beach. Once there, according to the complaint, they not only discovered a dispensary but also found some minor plumbing-code violations, including a missing strap on the the water heater and missing seismic straps.

Two days later, on August 1, Cervantes and Wallace-Ross were back on the road, this time visiting the Mari-Medic Dispensary on Mission Bay Drive near Garnet Avenue.

"Wallace conducted research on the internet regarding the dispensary Mari-Medic Farmacy. Wallace looked at a number of websites which posted reviews of the marijuana dispensary Mari-Medic Farmacy that was operating at the property. One website showed the types of marijuana which could be purchased at Medicated and the corresponding prices."

In both cases, the Vues weren't deterred, presumably banking on the promise from Filner. They ignored letters from the city ordering them to shut the dispensary down.

"Plaintiff is informed and believes that Defendants are blatantly and willfully in violation of the [municipal code] and will continue to maintain the unlawful code violations in the future unless the Court enjoins and prohibits such conduct. Absent the relief requested by Plaintiff, the City is unable to enforce its zoning laws and therefore unable to ensure the compatibility between land uses for its residents.

"The land use scheme and regulations under the Municipal Code become meaningless and the public is left unprotected from the direct and indirect negative effects associated with un-permitted and incompatible uses in their neighborhoods. Absent injunctive relief, the City will be irreparably harmed and the ongoing violations will continue to harm the public health, safety, and welfare."

The City Attorney's Office is asking that the court shut both dispensaries down for good as well as impose a $2500 daily fine for each day each one was in business.

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City attorney Jan Goldsmith and the lawyers working for him are back on the hunt to close a new crop of medical marijuana dispensaries now operating in the City of San Diego.

On October 23, the city filed suit against Sanda, Jerry, and Richard Vue for operating two marijuana dispensaries, the Mari-Medic Farmacy and Medicated, both of which are located in Pacific Beach.

The lawsuits are among the first to be filed since January 2013 when former mayor Bob Filner suspended enforcement on medical marijuana dispensaries until a new ordinance was crafted. He stood by his promise and, less than a month later, with recommendations from a medical marijuana committee, proposed an ordinance allowing dispensaries in commercial zones and in some industrial zones.

But the proposal was short-lived and it vanished shortly after allegations arose that Filner was guilty of sexual harassment. The allegations then opened the door for city's code-enforcement officers to go back on the hunt for illegally operating dispensaries.

On July 29, senior land-development investigator Kim Wallace-Ross and combination building inspector Robert Cervantes investigated a complaint that a marijuana dispensary was operating at 841 Turquoise Street in Pacific Beach. Once there, according to the complaint, they not only discovered a dispensary but also found some minor plumbing-code violations, including a missing strap on the the water heater and missing seismic straps.

Two days later, on August 1, Cervantes and Wallace-Ross were back on the road, this time visiting the Mari-Medic Dispensary on Mission Bay Drive near Garnet Avenue.

"Wallace conducted research on the internet regarding the dispensary Mari-Medic Farmacy. Wallace looked at a number of websites which posted reviews of the marijuana dispensary Mari-Medic Farmacy that was operating at the property. One website showed the types of marijuana which could be purchased at Medicated and the corresponding prices."

In both cases, the Vues weren't deterred, presumably banking on the promise from Filner. They ignored letters from the city ordering them to shut the dispensary down.

"Plaintiff is informed and believes that Defendants are blatantly and willfully in violation of the [municipal code] and will continue to maintain the unlawful code violations in the future unless the Court enjoins and prohibits such conduct. Absent the relief requested by Plaintiff, the City is unable to enforce its zoning laws and therefore unable to ensure the compatibility between land uses for its residents.

"The land use scheme and regulations under the Municipal Code become meaningless and the public is left unprotected from the direct and indirect negative effects associated with un-permitted and incompatible uses in their neighborhoods. Absent injunctive relief, the City will be irreparably harmed and the ongoing violations will continue to harm the public health, safety, and welfare."

The City Attorney's Office is asking that the court shut both dispensaries down for good as well as impose a $2500 daily fine for each day each one was in business.

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Comments
3

Interesting how the City Attorney is willing to apply the "Municipal Code" in this case, but was not willing to do so in the case of the North Park Jack in the Box. www.careaboutnorthpark.com https://www.facebook.com/DoTheRIghtThingJack?ref=hl

Oct. 28, 2013

Exactly the thought I had as I began reading the article!

Oct. 29, 2013

"Interesting how the City Attorney is willing to apply the "Municipal Code" in this case, but was not willing to do so in the case of the North Park Jack in the Box."

Apples and oranges, bwersie.

The JBX in North Park gamed the system by buying a permit, then going through the dog-and-pony process of getting support from community groups. They promised certain things to those groups...all the while simply going ahead with their plant. This is SOP for the city; write a check to the Development Services Department, and you are granted a permit virtually immediately. Violations of a community plan or a muni code don't really matter to DSD; it's up to neighbors or other aggrieved parties to appeal the permit process. If a business, with permit in hand, builds something, the city's not gonna force 'em to take it down, because the city granted a permit. The notable exception to this practice was the building that stuck up into federally-designated airspace near an airport. Turns out even if you pay la mordida to the local permit vendor, it doesn't pre-empt federal regulations. Curse those pesky Feds!

What has happened in the past is that the potshops got permits by claiming to be gift shops or whatever. Or they simply opened without any permits. Bottom line is, there is no city permit for pot shops, so they are illegally operating; this article kinda missed that crucial point.

If you distribute pot to "patients" as prescribed under state law, the feds and local cops don't care. If you open a store to sell drugs, you're running a business, which is subject to regulation by the city or county. And you're selling pot, which is illegal under state and federal law.

There is no permit required to be a caregiver, and to provide pot to sick people. If you do that, the cops and prosecutors, local and federal, won't touch you. When you get greedy and open a store, you're fair game.

The ultimate irony of bwersie's comment is that he seems to be anti-JBX and pro pot....and JBX is the only company that has run TWO national ad campaigns aimed at pot smokers. Heck, they even designed a "munchie menu" for that market. Go on youtube and watch their ads; total pothead demographic.

Oct. 29, 2013

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