Pubdate: Fri, 10 Jun 2011
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2011 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Author: Dana Littlefield


SAN DIEGO -- A judge denied a request Friday for a court order to shut
down a Rancho Bernardo medical marijuana dispensary, which a property
owners group claims is a public nuisance.

San Diego Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer upheld his tentative
ruling on the preliminary injunction, stating in part that the
Bernardo Town Center Property Owners Association had not proved that
the dispensary violates state and federal law.

Erik Rynko, director of MediBloom, Inc., said he was pleased with the
judge's decision. He said several people, including patients who
suffer from cancer, multiple sclerosis and other medical conditions,
rely on the marijuana collective.

"We're following all state laws and we're here providing a service to
the community of Rancho Bernardo," he said outside the courtroom.

MediBloom opened April 1 in a business park on Avena Place near
Bernardo Center Drive. A few weeks later, the property owners
association filed a lawsuit, contending that the collective violates
federal laws by distributing a controlled substance.

The association also contends that MediBloom is not permitted under
the group's covenants, conditions and restrictions because medical
marijuana dispensaries are neither medical clinics nor private clubs,
both of which are allowed.

Additionally, the association argues that MediBloom is a public
nuisance that has disturbed other tenants in the business park and
visitors to nearby Webb Park.

"We're not trying to stop them from doing that business, we're trying
to stop them from doing it on our premises," said attorney Rian Jones,
who represents the property owners association.

But Meyer wrote in his tentative ruling that the plaintiff had not
submitted enough evidence to support the public nuisance claim. He
said also that MediBloom could fall under the categories of "medical
clinic" and "private club," although the association had not defined
those terms in its contracts.

Those issues, the judge said, may be decided in trial.

Meyer also said that although MediBloom may violate federal law, it
does comply with the state's Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and the
Medical Marijuana Program Act, which allow the possession, use and
distribution of medical marijuana to patients.

"Federal law does not pre-empt the state," Meyer said

Lance Rogers, the attorney who defended former dispensary operator
Jovan Jackson in two criminal court trials, said after the hearing
that the MediBloom case represents an "interesting situation" because
it is a legal challenge by a private association, rather than law
enforcement or a city council.

"I'm hopeful that the residents of Rancho Bernardo will understand
that similar to a pharmacy, a medical marijuana collective provides
medicine to patients who have recommendations for medical marijuana,
and they're not going anywhere."

The property owners association could appeal the judge's ruling, but
it was not immediately clear Friday whether its representatives will
to do that. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.