MMJ Farmers Market Loses Court Battle

Over the Fourth of July weekend this past summer, owners of the Los Angeles dispensary West Coast Collective hosted California’s first ever medical marijuana farmers market. Thousands of medical marijuana patients flocked to California Heritage Market, where they were met by growers, budtenders and bushels of high quality cannabis at reasonable prices.

By the event’s end thousands of dollars had been made and patients were happy. The organizers hailed the first weekend a huge success and the next weekend was met with similar results. Unfortunately for the ailing people of Los Angeles, Mike Feurer, the city attorney, has a problem with farmers markets and free enterprise. On July 14, Feurer asked for and was granted an injunction against the West Coast Collective and the farmers market that they had organized.

In a statement to LA Weekly, Feurer said, “We’re fighting to stop this end-run around the will of the voters who enacted Proposition D. We allege these events also violate City land use law and are causing a public nuisance. We will do everything we can to put a halt to them.” Proposition D was a city-wide ballot initiative which banned the medical marijuana dispensaries in LA, with an exception being granted to the 137 dispensaries that operated before 2007.

Ever since Feurer has tried to shut down marijuana, members of the West Coast Collective have been in and out of court fighting not only to keep their cannabis farmers market, but also to keep their doors open. And sadly, the West Coast Collective has lost their first legal battle. On August 24, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell sided with Feurer by issuing another injunction against the marijuana farmers market as well ordering the West Coast Collective to shut down.

Oddly enough, the reason the judge ordered the West Coast Collective to shut down had nothing to do with the farmers market. Apparently, the manager of the dispensary made a minor mistake on the city’s requisite background check when he failed to enter the name of the dispensary that employed him. Although the LAPD  knew about this error for seven months, they waited until now to take issue with this innocent error.

Thankfully, the West Coast Collective won’t be permanently shut down. They will remain closed until the unnamed manager in question corrects the error in his paperwork and resubmits his background check, which should prove he isn’t a felon and can manage the dispensary. As with most bureaucratic hoops, the paperwork will likely take time to be completed and processed.

O’Donnell rejected arguments made by the collective’s attorneys that issuing an injunction would cause the collective to suffer irreparable harm. “The harm to defendants’ business does not outweigh the harm that would be suffered by the city if defendants were permitted to flaunt the city’s police powers and maintain a business enterprise that is prohibited by the municipal code.”

It is so heartwarming to hear that the judge is steadfast with the spirit of the law, especially considering that just this week, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office refused to press charges against a police officer who accidentally struck and killed a cyclist while typing on his computer. Evidently in LA, offering affordable cannabis to cancer patients is a more grievous crime than vehicular manslaughter.

The ongoing legal battle between the West Coast Collective and the LA City Attorney’s Office is expected to continue; however, no further court dates have been set at this time. It is unclear how the collective will fair in the next court hearing, but given LA’s track record, don’t expect justice to be served.

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