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Judge doesn't stop San Jose from threatening fines on pot clubs' landlords
    #413510 - 05/07/10 06:38 PM (8 years, 1 month ago)

By Mark Gomez mgomez@mercurynews.com
Posted: 05/07/2010 02:26:29 PM PDT

A judge today ruled San Jose officials may continue to threaten landlords of medical marijuana dispensaries with fines of up to $2,500 daily, a practice that has resulted in the eviction of at least one cannabis collaborative.

Although Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy ruled against the medical marijuana collectives, citing a lack of sufficient evidence to issue a ban on city officials from sending the letters, he did not throw out the case entirely. Murphy will listed to arguments from both sides at a hearing June 25.

The two San Jose medical marijuana collectives that filed the lawsuit, claiming the city's practice of threatening landlords of pot clubs with fines and citations is a violation of state law, viewed the decision as a victory. Their attorney, J. David Nick, said the city sought to have the lawsuit thrown out completely.

"We maintain the city's actions are unlawful," said attorney J. David Nick, who represents two of the San Jose collectives. "State law contradicts what they are doing."

San Jose's code enforcement office has sent threatening letters to the landlords of 20 dispensaries, resulting in the departure from the premises of the city's first, San Jose Cannabis Buyer's Collective. Another cannabis collective, Pharmer's Health Center Cooperative, ´╗┐is facing an eviction hearing May 13.

"The city hates these people," Nick said. "They will do what it takes to run these people out of town."

Attorney Margo Laskowski, who represented the city in court Friday, declined to comment. City Attorney Rick Doyle was not available for comment Friday; a message left with his office was not immediately returned.

In April, Doyle told the Mercury News that the suit was premature because the San Jose City Council is in the process of developing guidelines to allow limited use of medical cannabis clubs in San Jose.

The City Council could adopt an ordinance as early as next month that would regulate medical marijuana collectives and potentially generate new revenues for San Jose. About 50 cannabis collectives are currently operating in San Jose without any sort of regulation. Medical marijuana dispensaries are not currently allowed under city law.

San Jose City Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio has proposed that San Jose adopt regulations based on those in other cities such as Oakland that would allow an as-yet unspecified number of medicinal marijuana dispensaries to operate in industrial areas of the city. In March, the City Council voted to approve Oliverio's recommendation and called for an ordinance to be brought back in June that would allow a limited number of medical marijuana collectives and impose additional taxes on them to help support city services.

If the ordinance passes, the City Council then could propose a measure for the November ballot that would tax the pot clubs.

California voters will be asked in November to vote on a measure that would essentially legalize marijuana. The initiative would allow licensed retailers to sell up to an ounce of marijuana, generating as much as $1.4 billion in new taxes, according to proponents.

However, marijuana would remain illegal under federal law.

taken from here


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