The recent fires in Boulder are wreaking havok on a chunk of Boulder’s Medical Marijuana supply
HB 1284, the medical marijuana regulation law signed by Governor Bill Ritter, includes the right for municipalities to ban dispensaries, and numerous cities, including Aurora andBroomfield, are taking advantage of it. But while MMJ attorneys have talked about issuing lawsuits to challenge this and other HB 1284 provisions, none have appeared — until now. And the just-filed complaint involving Westminster’s Herbal Remedies could be a game-changer.
Among the attorneys handling the case is Sean McAllister, who led the successful campaign to decriminalize marijuana in Breckenridge last November. He makes it clear that while the case focuses on the City of Westminster, he thinks it’ll have statewide repercussions.
“This is the test case,” he says, “and we as the plaintiffs and the attorneys are going to bear the obligation for the entire movement to get a good result here.”
McAllister supplies background about the case.
“In November of 2009, before the legislature even enacted HB 1284, Westminster passed a dispensary ban,” he says. “And they did this even though there were two dispensaries open and operating in the community. They had come out and permitted these dispensaries, allowed them to operate, and then basically changed their mind.”
Herbal Remedies, owned by Carl Wemhoff, was one of the dispensaries in question — and McAllister charges the city with “walking a fine ethical line” in attempting to shut it down “by threatening, intimidating and coercing the landlord,” Gene Lehman, age 84.
“They’ve told him, ‘We’re going to prosecute you criminally’ — and, in fact, they did file criminal charges against him, and Carl, too. But then they said, ‘If you kick this tenant out, we’ll drop the charges against you.’ And never as a lawyer are you supposed to use the threat of criminal prosecution to resolve a civil dispute.”
According to McAllister, Lehman began eviction proceedings against the dispensary in June, despite the fact that “he doesn’t want to evict his tenants. He loves Herbal Remedies, and he loves Carl.”
The result was an eviction hearing on Monday, August 9. There, McAllister says, “we told the judge that this eviction proceeding was a sham, because the city isn’t here, and they’re trying to have the landlord do their dirty work. They’re acting like the puppet master, trying to force him to evict a tenant he doesn’t want to evict. And the judge totally agreed with us. He said, ‘This is crazy,’ because the real fight is over whether Westminster’s ordinance is legal. So we filed a lawsuit to bring the real issue to a head instead of this sideshow of an ethically questionable eviction process.”
The grounds for the Herbal Remedies lawsuit are much the same as those argued in Centennial late last year in a lawsuit on behalf of the CannaMart dispensary. CannaMart had a valid business license, but Centennial moved to shut it down anyhow, precipitating legal proceedings in Arapahoe County District Court. There, Judge Christopher Cross ruled that Centennial’s reliance upon weed’s illegality under federal law was trumped by the Colorado constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana.
This ruling fits with McAllister’s interpretation of the law.
“The constitution allows for distribution or sale,” says McAllister, “and any ban by the local government or the legislature will violate the constitution. And if this court in Adams County finds the same way the Centennial court did — that the constitution allows sale and distribution — these bans will be overturned.
“It wouldn’t be technically binding,” he concedes. “If we win this case, it wouldn’t be binding until we would have a Court of Appeals or Colorado Supreme Court decision. Those are the levels of decisions that would be binding on the entire state. But I think a victory in Adams County would be a strong signal to the legislature that these bans are illegal. And it would let localities that have bans see that the writing’s on the wall.”
On the surface, the setting for this fight is problematic for McAllister and his cause.
“Since 2000, when the medical marijuana amendment passed, and especially since last year, when the dispensary movement really exploded, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office and the Adams County District Attorney’s Office has been unfavorable to the law,” he maintains. “They’ve taken every opportunity to challenge medical marijuana participants as to their legality, even though voters in Adams County voted in favor of the amendment with 52 percent in favor. That’s why, in my opinion, the city, the DA’s office and the sheriff’s office are all engaging in undermining the constitution against the will of the voters.”
Why choose this course if constituents feel differently? “My belief is, they get a few vocal complaints and assume that because they don’t hear positive things from the other side, the community must all be against it. But I think the dynamics of this issue are so different. They’re enacting these hardcore bans to answer the loudest voices instead of being responsible. And I believe Westminster’s ban is irresponsible. It puts patients in a bad position. Why should a patient in Westminster have to drive to Denver to get something the constitution says they’re allowed to have?”
The progress of the Herbal Remedies suit probably won’t be swift.
“We’ll be asking for a preliminary injunction, and our hope is that there would be a hearing in the next thirty days,” McAllister says, adding that the case involving landlord Lehman is on hold until October at least. “We hope to get a preliminary-injunction ruling striking down the municipal statute. At that point, Westminster could revoke its ban and instead engage in responsible, reasonable regulation — and that’s our preferred way of working this out. But we could also go to trial whether we win or lose the preliminary injunction, and that could drag out another six months or a year beyond the preliminary injunction phase.”
In the meantime, Westminster has denied the renewal of Herbal Remedies owner Wemhoff’s business license — a decision that strikes McAllister as patently absurd.
“Herbal Remedies has put over $100,000 this year alone directly into the city coffers from sales tax revenue,” he notes. “And they employ over twenty people, with full benefits. In a recession, why wouldn’t the city want a business that’s producing enough tax revenue to probably pay for two city employees, and that’s serving thousands of patients, to continue operating?”
After all, he goes on, “there have been no complaints of criminal activity associated with the dispensary, and no complaints from neighbors, either. All we’ve heard over the last year is how dispensaries are horrible magnets for crime and disorder, but the doomsayers have been completely proven wrong. The sense I have is, these places have been remarkably crime-free and peaceful, and they fit in just fine with other businesses. And yet Westminster is acting like a federal agent and enforcing federal law instead of obeying Colorado law.
“Access to medical marijuana is a patient’s right, not a local government’s choice.”
Daniel Hinton, Suspect In Medical Marijuana Murder, Pleads Not Guilty, Second Suspect Still On the Loose15 Aug 2010, written by admin 0 Comments
LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) Daniel Deshawn Hinton, one of two men who police say killed a worker at a Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensary in late June, pleaded not guilty to murder Monday.
Authorities say after ransacking the business, confiscating money and marijuana, the robbers shot and killed store worker Matthew Butcher, 27, and wounded a security guard who is currently recovering from his injuries.
Hinton was arrested July 21 and pleaded not guilty to the robbery charges as well as additional charges of attempted murder, along with the special circumstance allegation of murder during a robbery.
Last week the City Council offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to Easter’s arrest.
Lt. Gregg Strenk, who is managing the investigation, said authorities are trying gather information about the third suspect who is believed to have been with Easter and Hinton when the shooting occurred, and a fourth person believed to be the getaway driver, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Hours after the Higher Patch shooting, another fatal shooting occurred at a medical marijuana dispensary in Hollywood. Authorities say an employee of the Hollywood Holistic store was found dead at the scene and that the business had apparently been robbed, according to CBS affiliate KCBS.
Police are not saying if the two shootings are related.
A Missoula man whose black market drug connections in Northern California allegedly furnished local medical marijuana dispensaries with pot pleaded guilty this week to a federal offense.
Around May 14, 2008, approximately 600 gallons of red diesel overflowed from an indoor marijuana grow’s fuel room and oozed 60 feet through shale to a clear creek high in the Humboldt Hills. A year later the creek, the community, and, most especially, the property owner still reel from the repercussions.
Bee says. Bent over a tray, picking through sticky green product for long, tedious hours, the women, and it’s mostly women, who work the clipping tables usually gossip, laughing and sharing stories to pass the time much as quilters might. The silver flash of small scissors enhances the image but these women could be arrested for their work and Bee knows it. A wiry, dark haired worker with her hair tucked into a cap, her hands never pause as she finishes answering my question. “I need the flexible hours. I drop my kid off at school, clip, and then I can go pick her up.”
Laws exist to create safety for society. Law enforcement officials act as guards– preventing crime (and retribution for crime) from leading to Hatfields versus McCoys. But, sometimes the spirit of the regulation is lost in the rush to enforce the letter of the law. Marijuana growers have increasingly become the victims of violent crime in the Northern California area. The most prominent case is that of Garrett Benson of Humboldt County, a former National Guard Sergeant and UPS driver murdered in his own home which included an indoor grow scene by intruders seeking to rob him.
as patients struggle to gain access and acceptance for treating illnesses such as cancer and multiple sclerosis with marijuana, they also fight to establish the safety of their medicine.
learn about california’s drive towards formal distribution and the hurddles that exist…