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City's Restraining Order Against Marijuana Co-op Denied by Judge

Greenhouse Cannabis Club on Jefferson Avenue plans to stay open after a judge does not grant a temporary restraining order sought by the city of Murrieta.

A Riverside judge on Friday denied a restraining order sought by the city of Murrieta against a newly-opened medical marijuana cooperative.

The Murrieta City Council on Tuesday in a closed session directed its legal staff to pursue the restraining order as the first course of action in permanently shutting down . The city has a on medical marijuana dispensaries.

The city's legal team, including attorney Jeff Morris, went before Riverside County Superior Court Judge John W. Vineyard with the goal of obtaining the restraining order, but came away empty-handed.

Morris told Patch in a phone interview Friday that the judge said their request was "too broad" so he set a hearing for Feb. 17. Morris believes at that time the city will be granted a permanent injunction against the medical marijuana operation.

"This was strictly a preliminary order," Morris said. "The judge would rather just have the hearing."

Morris said the city will continue issuing daily citations to Greenhouse Cannabis Club for being out of compliance with the city's municipal code.

"The city has a moratorium in place on medical marijuana, and plus they do not have a business license," Morris said.

Reached by phone Friday, Greenhouse Cannabis Club Director Eric McNeil said Murrieta police code enforcement officers did not issue him citations on Thursday or Friday at the cooperative located at 26151 Jefferson Ave., Suite A. He had been receiving daily citations of up to $2,500 since opening Jan. 3 after relocating from Lakeland Village near Lake Elsinore.

"I don't think they are able to cite me every day," McNeil said. "The moratorium the city has in place has too many gray areas in it, and a lot of constitutional issues. If they were going to do a moratorium they should have had the people vote on it. The City Council voted based on their own personal beliefs."

Medical marijuana is legal in California. On Thursday, the California Supreme Court agreed to review how cities and counties regulate medical marijuana.

The High Court will review two controversial medical marijuana cases—Pack v. City of Long Beach and City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patient's Health and Wellness Center., Inc.—then consider whether local governments can ban medical marijuana dispensaries given that the drug is legal under California voter-approved Proposition 215.

The court will also review the continued conflict between state and federal law. Under federal law, marijuana is illegal. The Pack decision held that some dispensary regulations may be preempted by federal law and the Riverside decision held that municipalities can legally ban dispensaries altogether.

As for the city of Murrieta's legal battle against medical marijuana dispensaries, Greenhouse Cannabis Club is the second to open its doors in the city in recent months. but was forced to close indefinitely in October when the same Riverside Superior Court judge ruled in favor of an injunction by the city.

Beth Burns, co-owner of Cooperative Medical Group at 26690 Madison Ave., Suite 103, has hired an attorney and filed an appeal. They are due in apellate court later this month.

"We are not stopping until we get a resolution," Burns said in an email to Patch. "Patients have the right to safe access. What better way than a storefront model? 

"The new co-op in town is brings the benefit of a long term lease to a building owner. I can run a good, responsible and clean co-op. Spending thousands of dollars on something that is not going to go away is not exactly a smart move."

McNeil agreed.

"Maybe it is time for the city to sit down with some of us co-ops and maybe regulate us," McNeil said.

His attorney, Richard Ackerman, could not be reached Friday for comment regarding the judge's ruling against the city's temporary restraining order.

Ackerman spoke with Patch earlier in the week, when he contended the operation is a nonprofit and is a meeting place for medical marijuana patients. He said the cooperative patients' civil and medical privacy rights were being violated by police scrutiny.

"...You are doing so because you unreasonably believe that you have a right to stop ANY ACTIVITY having to do with the use, possession, advocacy of, sharing of, presence of, or other speech content relating to marijuana," states a notice of rights he advised McNeil to serve to officers when they enter the cooperative.

"You are chilling the free exercise of rights of persons who may or may not be in possession, custody of, bearing a recommendation for, associating with certain persons related to, or just about anyone engaging in First Amendment activities relating to views about medical marijuana," the notice continues.

"Worse yet, you are interfering with our preservation, collection, maintenance and use of evidence against your alleged violations of constitutional law."

Ackerman contended there is no proof that profit is being made at the store.

Morris, on the other hand, diasgreed.

"What is happening is marijuana is being distributed in exchange for cash."

Toni McAllister contributed to this report.

Murrieta Resident January 22, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Jean, Perhaps you could help me with my facts. The business license issue was reported in the Press Enterprise, the North County times, and the Murrieta Patch. This is an excerpt from the NC Times "City records show that in a May application for a business license, Burns marked that she intended to open a "property management" business. In a spot that asks whether said business would deal with drug sales or treatment, Burns marked "no," a copy of the application shows. Burns was issued a business license for use of Suite 103 at 26690 Madison Ave. in June, according to city records. However, code enforcement and police officers inspected the business and discovered the business was operating as a marijuana dispensary." If this is a made up conspiracy where did you learn this and have there been retractions at any of these reporting agencies? Fact #2 in dispute -- Is Murrieta above the Law????? As far as state laws regarding distribution of marijuana, cities are granted the right to "regulate" dispensaries within city limits. The term regulate is highly subjective and certainly needs to be tightened down. As far as federal law Marijuana use is considered illegal and property used for illegal drug related purposes can be seized by federal agents. So is Murrieta above the law. I'd say no we are well within bounds.
Murrieta Resident January 22, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Fact #3 Jean stated "City Council members and the Police need to work for their constituents! All of them!! just not a group of them! Apparently, it is ok to use your political powers to push your own private agendas and manipulate people? City council members and officers are first mandated to uphold the law, I believe that includes federal, state, and city. No one person can possibly represent all people which it is why I suggest working very hard at the next election to get someone you identify with elected. Fact #4 in dispute I'll just group these together you said "Take a listen on how your local City Council members interpret the laws and not just marijuana laws.You stand by stupidity I dont!" How many city council meetings have you been to? I feel our council is pretty generous with their time and talents and do the best they can. I have only been to 2 city councils but I was impressed. I have also received responses in writing within 24 hours from the council anytime I have written with concerns. That is also impressive to me. So in this case I feel the statement that "I stand by stupidity" is a little juvenile. In conclusion the issue to me is not about marijuana it is about obeying laws or not. We have conflicting laws at Federal, state, and city level. Until we align these there will be confusion and it is up to all of us to work towards a solution.
Brenda February 19, 2012 at 01:25 AM
I agree with that one JJ. I think drinking should be illegal except in the confines of your own home. Not at bars, winery's, dinner, nowhere except home. That way it doesnt matter what your blood alcohol is, and its always murder 1 for a conviction, life in prison. Make it fast, simple, done with. Because we know for DANG sure that drunks kill. Either driving, in fights, cops drunk with guns at bars etc.
Dr Karl James Lorenzen March 10, 2012 at 01:54 AM
I am ANOTHER resident of the city of Murrieta (15 Years) who agrees 100% with LBV Collins. I am a professional, highly educated man who earned a Bachelor of Science with Honors, a Master of Arts Degree, and a Doctorate Degree from UC Riverside, and one who has unfortunately suffered from Osteo-Necrosis for 12 years. I ONLY get relief from incessant pain and insomnia from legally obtained Medicinal Marijuana a SAFER and non-addictive alternative to Narcotic-Opiod analgesics. As and upstanding, tax-paying resident of Murrieta, I have the legal right to safe and un-harassed access to herbal medicine from LOCAL licensed dispensaries in MY CITY. I cannot drive due to my condition (as many others bed-ridden residents, I must use a taxi for transportation. City Councel, PLEASE WAKE UP and smell the coffee (or in the case the Marijuana), and realize that the medicinal use of Marijuana is NEVER going to go away! You may delay it temporarily, but in-line with the majority of California Voters (Prop 215), STOP your unreasonable and compassion-less drive to deprive myself and others who need this alternative, homeo-pathic proven remedy for relief from the suffering and pain caused by a wide-range of serious medical conditions, which Medicinal Marijuana provides.
Brenda March 10, 2012 at 04:55 AM
Thank you for contributing to the article Karl. This is the most senseless, costly fight I have ever in my 52 yrs seen anyone continue. I guess just for the sake of winning, otherwise why would they deprive any of us who NEED IT? Its cruel punishment to shut down the area business's so its easier for us to get to. Its cruel and costly to those same business's who go to so much cost and work to get open just to have a huge 100 man task force come in tear your place apart, walls, ceilings, fans, plants, everything apart, just to make a point that "law enforcement is bigger and stronger" and will keep following the rules of the City and County, State and closing your doors. Very well put Karl and I hope we get some positive soon. Soon its not going to worth it for these people who open a co op to even bother wth it if the FBI, SHERIFF, City Police are going to go in with warrants once a month and a 100 to tow to tear apart their buiness operation, even walls, ceilings, display cases, plants, fans like they did this last bust. They had no reason to break and ruin all of that stuff other then to make a point of DO NOT OPEN again or we will do it AGAIN. Its horrible horrible what all of us are going through. I pray to God that all of these officials supporting these actions get just one of our diseases for a day, just ONE DAY to see what it is like. They let me see you get on the phone and call in 100 DEA to bust a co op business.

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