Garden Grove, Pot Capital of California?

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There's an interesting story in today's Los Angeles Times titled "Cities Seek an Antidote to Medical Marijuana." The story, by Jessica Garrison, surveys how towns throughout California are trying to navigate the dizzying conflict between state law, which says its okay for residents to cultivate and smoke marijuana for medical reasons, and the federal prohibition of cannabis.

That's not the interesting part. Here's what may be news to most Orange County residents: Garden Grove, which recently overturned its ban on pot clubs and which now has what the Times estimates to be at least 60 dispensaries within its borders, could have more storefront shops than any other city in the state.

The Times attributes this claim to Matt Fertal, Garden Grove's city manager, who was involved in the city's decision to reverse its ban on dispensaries. Fertal said the city, which is effectively broke, doesn't have the revenue to sue the clubs out of existence, as Lake Forest, just to cite one example, has succesfully done. Oh wait, actually, Lake Forest wasted a million dollars of taxpayer money trying to sue the clubs, before finally realizing it was a lot cheaper to invite the federal government to simply seize the property where the clubs were operating, thus forcing them to shut down.

According to the Times, "there are no hard figures on how many cities and counties have been involved in litigation over medical marijuana" however the paper "identified at least 40, and many experts say the number is probably much higher."

As Fertal points out, the pot clubs have lawyers at their disposal who are more than happy to sue any city that seeks to shut them down. "They've got more money than everybody to throw at this, and they are just determined to sue on every matter," Fertal told the Times. "We feel like we are caught in the middle."

Given all the craziness that's been unfolding in recent weeks, it's unclear how long medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed to operate. But it would appear Garden Grove is taking the smart approach: wait for the shit-storm to move on and meanwhile, don't waste badly-needed tax revenue by lining the pockets of attorneys who are just going to make this mess even more complicated.


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