A marijuana dispensary that’s been ordered to pay the city of Dana Point $2.4 million in civil damages for alleged illegal operations is now suing the city, San Diego Gas & Electric, city council members and individual staffers for conspiracy, defamation and other issues to the tune of $20 million.
Beach Cities Collective and its owner, David Lambert, filed the complaint in Orange County Superior Court on Wednesday. The complaint says city staff and council members “conspired in an extra-judicial crusade to prevent (Beach Cities) from legally supplying medical marijuana to their member patients.”
City Attorney Patirck Munoz said he hadn’t had a chance to review the lawsuit Wednesday afternoon. City Council members said they were unaware of the complaint.
See the lawsuit here
Beach Cities and Dana Point have been embroiled in an almost two-year legal battle prompted by the city suing several dispensaries in town for alleged illegal operations. The city says the dispensaries were selling marijuana for profit for nonmedical purposes. State law allows nonprofit collectives to distribute marijuana to patients with a doctor’s recommendation. The illegal sale of a controlled substance is considered a nuisance, according to the civil code. The collectives say they were providing medicine to patients.
Separate from its lawsuits against the dispensaries, the city shut down three collectives in January, claiming they had violated building code violations without inspecting them first. SDG&E officials removed Beach Cities’ electric meters. SDG&E and Angela Duzich, a code-enforcement official, are being sued, as well. A message left on SDG&E’s public affairs line was not immediately returned.
Two dispensaries, Holistic Health and Beach Cities, appealed the closures in February, but were denied by a retired Orange County judge hired by the city as a hearing officer. The city said the code violations were based on certificate of occupancy, security and building modification issues.
Beach Cities described the red-tagging of its building at 26841 Calle Hermosa as the “pinnacle” of the conspiracy in its complaint. After being red-tagged, Beach Cities then tried to operate out of another location, 26866 Calle Hermosa, but was shut down again.
“This situation in Dana Point has transcended anything I’ve seen in medical marijuana law throughout the state,” said Beach Cities’ attorney Jeffrey Schwartz, calling the code violations “over the top.”
The dispensary is also suing Munoz for defaming Lambert when he told a local paper that Lambert ran a “criminal enterprise.”
Additionally, the lawsuit claims that defendants broke the law by interfering with contractual and economic relations. The suit points out that Beach Cities had contractual and economic relationships with its landlords, which were broken by city interference. One of Beach Cities former landlords, Dr. David Sales, signed a contract with the city, agreeing to not lease his building to an operator selling marijuana. If he breaks the contract, he could be slapped with $1.2 million in penalties.
Orange County Superior Court Judge William Monroe ordered Beach Cities and Lambert to pay about $2.4 million in civil damages in March. That’s the maximum allowed for violations of health and safety and business and professions codes. Beach Cities has filed to appeal the decision.
“They may have won that battle, but they haven’t won the war,” Lambert said.
About a week ago, Beach Cities erected an Adopt-A-Highway sign on the southbound I-5 about a mile north of Dana Point’s Pacific Coast Highway exit. Lambert said it was a way to show that despite the legal battle, Beach Cities planned to stay in business.
via : ocregister.com
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