Pubdate: Tue, 21 Dec 2010
Source: Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA)
Copyright: 2010 The Press-Enterprise Company
Author: Alicia Robinson, The Press-Enterprise
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - U.S.)


A Riverside medical marijuana collective will be open to serve 
customers today, after an appeals court on Monday ruled the facility 
can operate while the city's lawsuit to close it proceeds.

A lower court judge had granted an injunction to close the Inland 
Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center but stayed the order so 
the facility's attorney could appeal.

The state Fourth District Court of Appeal continued the stay while it 
considers the case.

"Everybody's excited that we can continue to facilitate safe access" 
for medical marijuana patients as allowed by state law, said William 
Sump, the health and wellness center's general manager.

During business hours Monday, he said, "It was very stressful 
awaiting the outcome" from the court.

The center opened in December 2009. It is a collective open only to 
members, who must have a valid doctor's recommendation for marijuana. 
Sump said it has about 6,000 members, mostly from around Riverside County.

The center is also the first facility to be targeted with legal 
action by the city of Riverside. City officials say marijuana 
dispensaries are not allowed by the zoning code, and the city is 
seeking to shut down all such facilities.

In November, Superior Court Judge John D. Molloy agreed that the city 
is within its rights to use zoning to ban medical marijuana 
facilities, and he granted the injunction to close the health and 
wellness center.

The center's attorney is appealing, and its supporters have argued 
that state law allows cities to regulate dispensaries but not ban 
them outright.

On Monday afternoon, Riverside Deputy City Attorney Neil Okazaki 
declined to comment on the appeals court's stay of the injunction 
because he had not yet seen the order.

Overall, he said, "I don't think it affects the city's strategy."

The city has requested injunctions against several medical marijuana 
facilities; some have closed voluntarily and the city continues to 
pursue four others in court.  
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