Pubdate: Thu, 15 Mar 2012
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Record Searchlight
Author: Sean Longoria


A Shasta County Superior Court judge has denied the Redding's request 
for a court order that would have closed down medical marijuana 
dispensaries across the city.

The ruling surprised city officials, who had said they didn't believe 
a recent Southern California appellate court decision striking down a 
dispensary ban in Lake Forest would have any impact on the local case.

Judge Stephen Baker's ruling late Wednesday relies heavily on the 4th 
District Court of Appeal decision in city of Lake Forest v. 
Evergreen, a ruling published Feb. 29 - two days after Baker heard 
arguments and took the local case under submission.

The appellate court in Lake Forest ruled the city violated state law 
with its attempt to ban dispensing medical marijuana by declaring the 
dispensaries nuisances. Lake Forest tried to label its dispensaries 
nuisances solely because of their existence and not because anything 
they were doing was illegal, the court ruled.

"Under the (Lake Forest's) ban, a medical marijuana dispensary always 
constitutes a nuisance, though the Legislature has concluded 
otherwise," a panel of judges said in the appellate ruling.

State law allows dispensaries to operate, provided the medical 
marijuana is grown on site, according to the ruling.

"The Lake Forest case is persuasive, and stands for the proposition 
that an outright ban that declares a dispensary a nuisance merely by 
virtue of its existence is impermissible," Baker said in his ruling. 
"Also, there is no evidence here as to whether the dispensaries are 
violating any regulations, such as the requirement that dispensary 
activities be tied to a cultivation site."

Redding's dispensary owners were pleased with the decision that lets 
them continue to operate as their challenge to the city's ban 
continues toward a possible trial.

Only about seven storefronts remain open in the city.

"I think the judge made a fair decision," said Natalie Fuellenbach, 
spokeswoman for Herbs and Edibles on Lake Boulevard.

Jess Brewer, executive director for Trusted Friends on Pine Street, 
said early Thursday afternoon he'd already received congratulatory 
phone calls from his members. Brewer is a plaintiff in the legal 
challenge to Redding's ban.

"I'm just happy with the judge's decision," Brewer said. "We'll be 
able to stay in business and hopefully be able to serve our patients 
and Shasta County."

Assistant City Attorney Barry De Walt, who's representing the city in 
the local case, said his office was aware of the Lake Forest case but 
he didn't think it would affect Baker's decision.

That echoes comments made recently by City Attorney Rick Duvernay.

"This case stands for a proposition that a total ban is not permitted 
and the city didn't enact a total ban," De Walt said.

Redding still allows patients to collectively grow medical marijuana 
in groups of nine or less.

"I was certain that would be the result," Redlands Attorney James 
DeAguilera said of Baker's ruling. He's representing Cannabis Club, 
on Westside Road; California Patient Collective, on Churn Creek Road; 
Nature's Nexus, on Hartnell Avenue; Planet Herb, on Hilltop Drive; 
and Family Tree Care Center, on Bechelli Lane.

Officials in Lake Forest are asking the California Supreme Court to 
review that case, according to the Orange County Register.

"What better thing could happen than have Lake Forest come," said 
Alec Henderson, who's representing Trusted Friends and Herbs and Edibles.

Baker issued a tentative ruling Feb. 27 to grant the city's request 
for the injunction. That ruling wasn't adopted when he took the case 
under submission after a hearing the same day.

The Lake Forest case hadn't been published at that point.

"Then this case comes that saves the day, which is fantastic," Henderson said.

De Walt said his office will update the City Council on the case in 
closed session at Tuesday's meeting. Council members will then decide 
how to proceed.

'This motion is not the end of the case by any stretch of the 
imagination," he said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom