[UPDATED: Pot Club Rescinds Truce]: Dana Point Officials Winning War on Medical Pot?
UPDATED, May 13, 12:25 PM: The Beach City Collective rescinded a truce offer yesterday that had been extended to the Dana Point City Council in a May 4 letter, the Dana Point Times has reported. The medical marijuana dispensary had offered to withdraw its $20 million lawsuit against the city if Dana Point officials agreed to allow the club to reopen without being fined, and to place the $2.4 million award the city won against the club in March on hold.
"So far you're winning but the case is on appeal, David Lambert, the collective's managing director, wrote in the letter. "[T]his escalation is costing both of us a lot of money and isn't helping any patients get their needed medicine." The city never responded to the letter, so the collective had no choice but to withdraw the offer, according to a statement by Lambert's lawyer, Jeffrey M. Schwartz. "Our settlement offer expired yesterday without any response by Dana Point," Schwartz stated. "So, we continue on our original path."
UPDATED, APRIL 13, 11:29 PM: The back and forth battle between Dana Point cannabis clubs and the city officials who hate them seems like it will never end. Despite a) being shut down last month, b) being hit with a six-figure civil penalty, and c) promising not to sell any more medical cannabis at its previous location, the Beach City Collective refuses to give up.
The latest news, according to an article yesterday in the Register: the club has sponsored a section of the I-5 Freeway. Now the club's name and logo decorates an Adopt-a-Highway Sign just north of Dana Point's Pacific Coast Highway exit. In return, the club is paying $250 a month to cover CalTrans cleanup efforts along the freeway. The move didn't impress the folks down at city hall, much, though. "It's a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of illegal sales the city suspects they have engaged in," assistant city manager Mike Killebrew whined, "and neither legitimizes their illegal activity nor undoes the harm they cause through the sale of illegal drugs in the community."
UPDATED, MAR. 30: Looks like the answer to the above question is yes, at least for now. The OC Register is reporting today that Beach City Collective is getting out of the medical marijuana business. Both Dr. David Sales, the former landlord of the dispensary's 26841 Calle Hermosa location, and collective co-owner Tim Louch, apparently signed statements promising not to allow marijuana to be sold at the property. The Reg says that if the agreement is broken, each man could be fined $1.2 million in civil penalties by the city of Dana Point. If that sounds like a lot of beans, consider this: earlier this month, a judge in Dana Point's lawsuit against the collective ordered it to pay the city $2.4 million.
ORIGINAL POST, MAR. 1: Few cities in California can claim to have done more to prevent their residents from having access to medical marijuana than Dana Point. In March 2010, the city sued half a dozen cannabis collectives on the basis they were operating outside of the city's municipal code, one of which was promptly raided. In January of this year, they forcibly closed three of the dispensaries--Beach Cities Collective, Holistic Health and The Point Alternative Care--by shutting off their electrical supply.
And now, the city is demanding $1.9 million from one of the trio of recently shuttered clubs.
The Orange County Register reported this sordid news on Feb. 25, a day after Orange County Superior Court Judge Jamoa Moberley ruled in favor of the city's lawsuit against the Point Alternative Care. Apparently, city attorney Patrick Munoz believes the ruling allows Dana Point to ask for $2,500 for every day the club operated inside city limits, thus the $1.9 million figure.
If the city wins in this ridiculous attempt to offset the massive legal bills it has racked up in the past year, it will presumably bolster city officials in their determination to force all dispensaries out of town. Meanwhile, hearings continue in the back-and-forth lawsuits between the city and the cannabis clubs, not to mention separate litigation from May 2010 filed against the city by a blind San Clemente resident named Melinda Traudt, who suffers from cerebral palsy and epilepsy and whose family relied on a Dana Point club to obtain cannabis to relieve her pain.