Pubdate: Sun, 28 Aug 2011
Source: Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA)
Copyright: 2011 The Press-Enterprise Company
Author: Alicia Robinson
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Riverside City Attorney Greg Priamos now has another weapon in his 
fight against medical marijuana dispensaries: the power to subpoena.

The City Council last week voted to let the city attorney's office 
use legislative subpoenas when people connected with dispensaries 
won't cooperate.

Medical marijuana proponents say state law gives dispensaries the 
right to operate within certain guidelines. However, Riverside 
officials maintain the city zoning code bans medical marijuana 
facilities citywide.

Priamos said he has used legislative subpoenas before, when the city 
was seeking to close group homes for parolees that did not have 
permits. He already has filed 15 lawsuits against marijuana 
dispensaries, some of which have closed.

"We are having quite a bit of difficulty with property owners ... 
that are leasing their property to dispensaries in knowing violation 
of our zoning code," Priamos said. "The subpoenas are necessary to 
get additional information."

For example, Priamos said he might subpoena copies of lease documents 
to determine how much rent is being charged, if it's being paid in 
cash, and whether the owner knew the tenant planned to operate a dispensary.

In Craig Celse's case, the lease likely would show he had no idea his 
tenant intended to run a dispensary. Celse is cooperating with the 
city, which earlier this month shut down a medical marijuana 
collective in a Victorian house Celse owns in the Magnolia Center area.

"All we had was a residential rental agreement," Celse said, and the 
house isn't zoned for business use.

Celse said the city attorney's efforts were successful regarding his 
property, and he has given the tenants notice to leave. For property 
owners who aren't as compliant as Celse, Priamos now can use 
subpoenas and seek court orders to back them up if necessary.

Priamos said he is investigating a number of dispensaries, but as of 
Thursday he had not issued any subpoenas and declined to say which 
dispensaries might be the first targets.
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