The Eastside marijuana farmers market that made huge headlines when it opened for the Fourth of July weekend has been ordered by a judge to stop operating.
The preliminary injunction follows an initial temporary restraining order granted after the L.A. City Attorney's office took organizers to court and argued that the law doesn't allow dispensary operators to open their doors to suppliers who could then sell directly to patients, which is apparently what happened at the California Heritage Market.
Today's ruling was hailed by City Attorney Mike Feuer, who said the market failed to comply with a law passed by voters last year, Proposition D, that outlaws the city's collectives with some exceptions:
"This is another victory in our continued enforcement of Proposition D," he said. "L.A. residents voted to take sensible steps to limit the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries, and we're doing just that."
Proposition D made it illegal to operate a dispensary in town, but it allows about 135 shops that have been around since before a 2007 city moratorium limited legal immunity.
Still, more than 900 are registered to pay a city marijuana tax.
West Coast Collective operated the farmers market on its property at 1500 Esperanza Street in East L.A.
An attorney for the dispensary argued that it was legal because only "members" of the collective who grew their own marijuana for the purpose of sharing with fellow patients—wordage that echoes state law—were allowed to sell.
A representative of the dispensary initially told us, however, that other dispensaries as well as legit growers were allowed to sell at the event.
The City Attorney's office has argued that only the operator of a dispensary can sell medical marijuana at one location. The farmers market operated for two weekends before the City Attorney's office targeted it for an injunction.
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Prosecutors said the farmers market was an "unpermitted" use of the property and that doing such a "swap meet"-style business there was outside the limited immunity offered to dispensaries by Proposition D, according to the injunction.
L.A. Superior Court Judge Joanne O'Donnell issued the preliminary injunction today. She backed the City Attorney's claim that the farmers market is a "nuisance."
She said, however, that the West Coast Collective dispensary on the property could continue operating.
[Correction: The ruling says that West Coast Collective can't operate, either, according to the City Attorney's office, because the operators were not properly registered and vetted by the city].
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