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Marijuana Clinic Wins in Court July 7, 2005 - rednova.com
The first medical marijuana dispensary in the San Gabriel Valley is now free to distribute marijuana to patients with doctors' notes, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David Yaffe ruled against Los Angeles County, denying its request for a preliminary injunction against Hacienda Heights-based dispensary California Medical Caregivers Association.
The decision is a victory for locals who use marijuana as medicine to treat cancer, anorexia, glaucoma, AIDS and other illnesses, said Richard Gordon, an attorney for CMCA.
"Now, patients on the east side of the county will be able to have access to their medication," he said.
County Supervisor Don Knabe, who led efforts to stop the dispensary, was disappointed with the decision.
"What we are trying to do here is protect the quality of life in our neighborhoods, just like we would do in any other zoning issue," he said in a prepared statement. "We would not build an oil refinery next to a school or a (residential area) without some checks and balances in place. That is exactly what we should have when it comes to the location of a medical marijuana dispensary.'
County attorneys argued CMCA flouted a 45-day moratorium on dispensaries in unincorporated areas, which the county passed May 31 soon after learning of two dispensaries' plans to open -- CMCA, and another in Rowland Heights. The county won a temporary restraining order three weeks ago against CMCA, prohibiting it from distributing marijuana.
But the court ruled the county's ban does not comply with state code regarding urgency ordinances. The dispensary does not need more approval to operate because there are no ordinances in the L.A. County zoning code regulating medical marijuana dispensaries, Yaffe ruled.
Dispensary operators said they were exempt from the ban anyway, because they were registering patients before it took effect, even though they hadn't actually provided any marijuana to patients. They signed a lease for the office at 15838 Halliburton Road in March, and have since registered at least 100 patients.
"It's like a real estate firm before the first sale," Gordon said.
CMCA director David Nam declined to comment on advice of his attorney, but has said in the past the dispensary will have security guards to prevent reselling or smoking at or around the site.
The county will consider appealing the decision, and has not yet determined if the ruling upturns the countywide moratorium, said David Sommers, spokesman for Don Knabe.
Mike Williams, Hacienda Heights Improvement Association president, said he will again invite dispensary operators to attend his group's next meeting to discuss the concerns of residents, many who say the dispensary is too close to schools. Dispensary operators did not attend a previous HHIA meeting on advice of their attorney.
"We'd like to understand their selection of a location. And, of course, we'd like to understand how they're going to operate," Williams said. "The community has very little information. It would be nice if they would come and talk to us."