Pubdate: Fri, 19 Mar 2010
Source: Daily Pilot (Costa Mesa, CA)
Copyright: 2010 Daily Pilot
Author: Mona Shadia


Officers went to two dispensaries to warn them they are  not in
compliance. Both businesses denied selling pot.

Costa Mesa code enforcement and police officers caught  K.C. Bui, a
volunteer at the Bottega-M marijuana  dispensary on 17th Street, by
surprise when they paid  him a visit Thursday afternoon.

Walking into 435 E. 17th St., the smell of marijuana  was

It was the second time that police visited Bottega-M.  This time, the
authorities handed out a  cease-and-desist order, one of two they
would issue to  local pot dispensaries Thursday.

They delivered a second one to the Costa Mesa Patients

About two weeks ago, after the city turned down  Bottega-M's
application for a business license to  dispense marijuana, police Lt.
Mark Manley stopped by  to drop off a copy of a city ordinance. He
also  informed Bui about the city law that prohibits  marijuana
dispensaries from setting up shop.

When asked why he continued to operate after being  informed, Bui said
he's not in charge of the operation.  The Daily Pilot accompanied the
police and code  enforcement on their afternoon visit to Bottega-M and
  another pot dispensary, Shoreline Medical Assistance on  17th Street.

Although Bottega-M's website includes its menu and  prices, Bui said
he doesn't sell marijuana, but  provides it to patients after
verifying their  prescriptions.

It also appeared that Bottega-M was in violation of  city building
codes, Manley said.

"We don't have a moral or ethical position on medicinal  marijuana,"
Manley said. "At this point in time it's a  violation of the city's
law, and we are just doing our  job of enforcing the code."

City officials also walked in while a person was  working on wall
outlets. Code Enforcement Officer  George Nichols determined that
there was an electrical  outlet in the office that did not comply with
city  codes.

Police have raided dispensaries in the city and  arrested employees on
suspension of selling the drug,  which under California law continues
to be illegal when  not sold in compliance with the state's
restrictive  medical marijuana law.

The city has also issued cease-and-desist orders to  several
dispensaries in Costa Mesa.

Every marijuana dispensary in the city is operating  illegally,
according to the city's ordinance, but the  difference between those
that were raided and those  that were served cease-and-desist orders
is evidence  that they are also operating in violation of the state
law, law enforcement officials said.

"We've identified ones that are going above and beyond  the state's
guidelines," Manley said. "They're just  illegally selling drugs."

Shoreline Medical Assistance has 30 plants and all the  equipment
needed to grow pot. But the two men who  eventually answered the door
said they don't sell it,  but grow it for personal use and showed city
officials  their medical marijuana cards.

The two men, who refused to give their names, applied  for a business
license with the city to operate a  marijuana dispensary, but were
turned down.

They told Manley, Nichols and the undercover officer  who accompanied
them that their office was originally a  finance company that went out
of business.

One of them told Manley his wife doesn't like the  smell, so he's
growing the pot in his old office. 
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