One medical marijuana patient collective in Los Angeles is taking a unique approach in its fight to defend itself from being forced to close. It is targeting the L.A. Police Department in a lawsuit.
Other suits have been filed by other dispensaries and collectives following the city council's unanimous decision to ban the shops from operating, but this is the first lawsuit to directly take on the city's police department, reports the Cannabis Law Group
The case is Collins Collective v. City of Los Angeles, LAPD. Cannabis Law Group attorney Damian Nassiri is handling the case.
According to the collective, the reason for the suit is that L.A. police officers, in violation of California law, threatened "severe repercussions" on August 13 if the collective continued in its efforts to establish a storefront dispensary. Cops said that if the collective opened, they would forcibly shut it down and arrest the members.
The collective continued undeterred in its efforts, and members were then visited again by LAPD officers, who again threatened forcible closure and criminal prosecution.
Bear in mind that Collins Collective, back in May, submitted its proposed articles of incorporation to the Secretary of State. The state legally recognized the collective on that same day as a medical marijuana, nonprofit, mutual benefit organization founded with the express purpose of growing cannabis and facilitating transactions for medically authorized members.
Los Angeles, with the city council's recent passage of Ordinance No. 182190, effectively established what officials claimed was a "gentle ban" on marijuana cultivation. Cannabis growing collectives were limited to only three members or fewer.
"Most patients and caregivers, in groups of three or less, do not have the time, the resources or the overall ability to cultivate their own medicine," according to Cannabis Law Group.
The collective contends that for all practical purposes, this is essentially a total ban, and as such, violates the California Constitution and the state's Compassionate Use Act of 1996.
Just as with other collectives throughout Los Angeles, city officials have issued a "Medical Marijuana Business Letter," indicating that failure to shut down will recent in court-ordered closure, fines of up to $2,500 a day, criminal prosecution with the potential for up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, and administrative action to padlock the property.
"With this action, the defendants -- both the city and the police department -- have acted arbitrarily and capriciously in regulating business and land use in a manner that defies California state rights and benefits, as well as due process of law," according to Cannabis Law Group.
Collins Collective is simply asking for the chance to serve its patients and legally provide relief to them in a manner protected by state law. "The city's ordinance -- and the police officers' threatened enforcement of those actions -- conflicts with the general laws by in essence removing the rights of those individuals in the city who seek to obtain medicine which they need and which they are prescribed," Cannabis Law Group said in a prepared statement.
As such, the Cannabis Law Group said it is seeking the following remedies on behalf of Collins Collective:
• A temporary restraining order, followed by a preliminary injunction and ultimately a permanent injunction, that would prevent the city and its employees from enforcing the city's ban against the plaintiff and its qualified patient members.
• A permanent injunction barring the city and the police department from taking criminal or civil action against Collins Collective.
• An order declaring that the city's actions are not only invalid, but unconstitutional, in violation of Article I, Section 7(a) and Article XI, Section 7 of the state constitution.
• Award of costs and attorney fees.