Pubdate: Thu, 09 May 2013
Source: Redlands Daily Facts (CA)
Copyright: 2013 Los Angeles Newspaper group
Author: Ryan Hagen


Years of levying but not collecting fines on medical marijuana 
dispensaries and fielding impatient calls from neighbors upset the 
shops stay open are rapidly ending now that the California Supreme 
Court says cities may ban them, San Bernardino officials say.

The message was taken seriously by at least 18 of the 33 dispensaries 
in the city, who have stopped operating since they were ordered to 
close Tuesday - the day after the court's ruling - according to City 
Attorney James F. Penman.

The owners of an unnamed dispensary on the 3200 block of E Street 
that stayed open realized the seriousness Thursday. It was the first 
target of a series of planned raids by police, city attorney 
investigators, code enforcement and fire employees working together.

Officials seized 80 plants, 30 pounds of marijuana - with an 
estimated value of $3,000 per pound - and a loaded 12-gauge shotgun 
with a pistol grip, said City Attorney James F. Penman.

A second dispensary authorities went to Thursday, in the 3900 block 
of Sierra Way, Penman said was on its way out.

"The second one we hit was open yesterday, but closed today," Penman 
said, adding that workers were removing the ATM and turning away 
potential customers when authorities arrived. "That's what we hope to 
see, is empty businesses."

Authorities raided two locations before being called off because of 
an officer-involved shooting on Hospitality Lane.

More will follow, including checks of previously closed locations, Penman said.

That's great news for nearby businesses, said Judy Grafton, owner of 
a tax and notary store called Judy's Business Services across E Street.

"It's just been awful for us," Grafton said. "Since they came in, 
we've lost 50 percent of our business."

Grafton's business has San Bernardino Police conduct a raid on a 
marijuana dispensary along the 3200 block of North E Street in San 
Bernardino May 9, 2013. Officials seized 80 plants, and 30 pounds of 
marijuana with an estimated value of $3,000 per pound. Officers also 
confiscated a loaded .12-gauge shotgun with a pistol grip. (Gabriel 
Luis Acosta/Staff Photographer) been open 10 years and the dispensary 
opened two years ago, she said. Unsavory customers, litter and a 
persistent smell of marijuana have plagued her since, she said.

It will be good to have visitors over again without them asking about 
the smell, said Joe Mora, 44, who lives nearby.

"The kids play outside, and they can smell that, and they see the 
foot traffic - these people don't have cars and they're a bad 
element," said Mora, who said he's complained repeatedly to Penman 
and his councilwoman, Wendy McCammack, and is glad the city is now 
able to fix the problem.

The legal status of the city's ban on medical marijuana dispensaries 
was unclear until the court ruled, but officials had been issuing 
administrative civil penalties of $1,000 a day beginning as soon as 
they became aware of a dispensary.

But several people arriving at the dispensary as officials worked 
inside said the shut-downs would hurt residents.

"Now where am I supposed to go?" asked one woman who didn't want to 
give her name but said she needed marijuana for medical purposes. 
"It's like they want it to be on the streets."

There already are too many illegal drugs on the street, and police 
should focus on those rather than closing well-run dispensaries that 
help solve the problem, said Barbara Tinch, who described herself as 
"the mom" who helps run Arrow Alternative Remedies on Waterman Avenue.

"We came here to help the city, and we're not giving up," Tinch said, 
pointing to the California law allowing medical marijuana use. "I 
haven't done anything illegal. I'll take that to a jury of my peers."

Tinch said she had gotten the city's warning that it would obtain 
warrants, seize evidence of illegal activity and close dispensaries 
to enforce its ban on operating a medical marijuana dispensary or 
being an employee or volunteer of one. But she said Arrow Alternative 
Remedies has a license and has a thin profit margin because of the 
taxes it pays.

"Every day this week, I've asked for a meeting with the mayor, and I 
have a petition," she said. "Right now it has more than 400 
signatures. The city needs to listen to its citizens."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom