Property Owner Seeks to Shutter Pot Shop
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A commercial property owner wants a federal judge to stop a branch of California's largest medical marijuana dispensary, featured on the TV show "Weed Wars," from operating on its premises.
Concourse Business Center asked the district court on Wednesday to issue an order barring Harborside Medical Center from growing, possessing and selling marijuana at its property in San Jose.
Harborside became famous nationwide when it was featured on the Discovery Channel show "Weed Wars. According to lawsuits filed last month by the U.S. Attorneys' Office, the dispensary claims to be the largest retailer of marijuana on the planet, serving more than 100,000 customers.
Concourse says it rented its Ringwood Avenue location to Harborside in 2011 with the understanding that the property would be used as an office and warehouse for a medical cannabis and herbal supplement dispensary.
At the time, Concourse "mistakenly believed that one could lawfully operate a medical cannabis dispensary in the State of California," the property owner claims in its motion in Federal Court.
A week after learning about the forfeiture actions, Concourse says it gave Harborside a 30-day notice to stop growing and selling medical marijuana at the property.
"Since that time, Concourse has had ongoing discussions with Harborside in an attempt to agree on a date by which Harborside would vacate the property," Concourse claims. "The parties have been unable to reach such an agreement and Harborside has also failed and refused to cease cannabis sales at the property."
When the 30 days were up, Concourse filed an unlawful detainer action against Harborside.
"Since learning that Harborside's activity at the property violates federal law, Concourse has committed to taking all reasonable measures to cause Harborside to cease illegal activity at the property," the motion states.
The property owner seeks an order barring the use of its property for "the cultivation, possession with intent to distribute, and/or distribution of marijuana in any form."
It claims an injunction is the "most expedient and efficient" means of preventing the property from being used to commit crimes, and says Congress "has specifically authorized district courts to enjoin violations of the Controlled Substances Act."
The recent crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries in California had focused on dispensaries that were allegedly near schools, parks and playgrounds.
Harborside maintains that it has complied with all local and state laws and that it was not within 1,000 feet of a school, another rationale the Justice Department is using to target dispensaries even though state law is set at 600 feet, according to the Americans for Safe Access' website.
More than 400 dispensaries have shuttered in California since the U.S. Attorneys announced a crackdown against medical marijuana dispensaries in October 2011, "mostly from the specter of federal criminal prosecution or asset forfeiture," according to the medical marijuana advocacy group's site.
A statement on Harborside's website said the clinic "has nothing to be ashamed of" and vowed to fight the potential eviction "with every legal means at our disposal."
Concourse is represented by Paul Avilla with McPharlin, Sprinkles & Thomas in San Jose.