Marijuana Dispensaries Banned in Claremont

A California Court of Appeals has published a decision that the state’s medical marijuana law does not require all cities to approve zoning for marijuana dispensaries. The ruling affirmed Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dan T. Oki’s decision to bar Darrell Kruse and Claremont All Natural Nutrition Aids Buyers Information Service (CANNABIS) from operating a marijuana dispensary in Claremont.The case began when Kruse’s application for a business permit and license was denied by City Hall in September 2006. Kruse ignored the decision, opening the dispensary on Sept. 15 and filing for an administrative appeal of the denial of his application.On Sep. 26, the Claremont City Council issued a 45-day moratorium on the issuance of any permit or variance for the operation of a medical marijuana dispensary in Claremont. This ruling was made on the grounds that the council lacked any official rules that would dictate where such dispensaries could be located, and it cited a need for careful study as to how such businesses would be regulated.In spite of this moratorium, which was extended through September 2008, Kruse refused to close the dispensary, resulting in a fine and eventual suit by the city to close CANNABIS as a public nuisance.Judge Oki ruled that Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, which allows for individual possession of marijuana for medical purposes, does not “mandate that municipalities allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate within their city limits.”Judge Oki also noted that because the business was operating without a license or permit and in violation of federal law, it was a nuisance. On those grounds, Judge Oki ruled in favor of the city’s injunction to close the dispensary.Justice Victoria Chavez, writing for the Court of Appeals, agreed with Judge Oki’s decision. She noted that the case before the court was not a permit appeal since Kruse had operated the business without a permit. In addition, she rejected Kruse’s claim that the dispensary should have been granted a permit under the category of either “cigar/cigarette/smoke shops” or “health, herbal, botanical stores.”The justice also rejected the notion that Judge Oki had exceeded his authority by granting a citywide injunction.“Given defendants’ disregard of the city’s licensing and zoning laws, and Kruse’s stated intent to operate…CANNABIS in violation of those laws, the injunction issued was not an abuse of the trial court’s discretion,” Chavez wrote.

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