Orange County Bids Farewell to Storefront Marijuana Dispensaries

But they're not shutting down without a fight

The medical-marijuana bubble has officially burst in California.

Until recently, anyone with a $20 doctor's note and a hankering for Hindu Kush could walk into his or her corner marijuana dispensary—one of hundreds and possibly thousands of such operations throughout the state—and walk out minutes later with a jar full of 100 percent legal weed. But after three years of allowing the state's medical-pot industry to explode, the Obama administration began cracking down on marijuana growers and distributors in late 2011. Cities that hadn't already banned storefront dispensaries began doing so, and raids and property seizures in Orange County quickly mounted, first in Costa Mesa and South County, then Anaheim and Santa Ana.

On May 6, the California Supreme Court upheld Riverside's ban on dispensaries, effectively stating that any city in the state that wanted to prohibit such clubs were free to do so. By the time that ruling came down, you'd be hard put to find a single storefront in Orange County, with the exception of a handful in Santa Ana and Garden Grove, the latter of which ordered all dispensaries to shut down by May 14 or face immediate raids and fines of $1,000 per day.

"I've heard rumors the city will be sending out the SWAT Team," says Marla James, president of the Orange County chapter of Americans for Safe Access, the nation's largest medical-marijuana activist group. "They will be arresting people."

James works for Patient Med-Aid, a dispensary that was the focus of a feature story last year (see "Sick Enough to Smoke," Nov. 21, 2012). At the time, the club operated in Anaheim, but it had to move after city officials collaborated with federal drug authorities to threaten landlords who rent to dispensaries, including an Iranian-American couple who stand to lose a $1.5 million retirement property because of $37 worth of medical pot purchased by an undercover cop at a since-shuttered tenant-collective. Now, Patient Med-Aid operates in Sunset Beach, although its future is uncertain. "We're working with the city to find a location in an industrial zone," James explains. "But I have to say it's a bitch to find a landlord who will rent to us."

Although the era of storefront pot collectives seems to have drawn to a dramatic close, those businesses aren't shutting down without a fight. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) has introduced a bill that would force the federal government to stop interfering in states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. On May 13 in Riverside, Democratic Party activists passed a resolution calling for state legislators to draw up regulations that would allow dispensaries to operate legally.

Paul Lucas, an OC-based activist, says he tried to get 35 members of the county's Democratic Party central committee to call for a Cannabis and Hemp Caucus but fell short by 15 names. "The unfortunate truth is that even with [Lieutenant Governor] Gavin Newsome coming out to support full legalization, Democrats are squishy about this issue mostly due to not knowing the facts and the fear of being seen as soft on crime," Lucas says.

One such Democrat would be Garden Grove's Bruce Broadwater, whose son struggled with drug addiction and who has often attacked medical marijuana as a gateway drug. "What I hear from Mayor Broadwater is that dispensaries are full of kids who come in for pot," James says. "We don't have kids coming in to our dispensary; we have adults. We give marijuana away to people with really severe diseases. When the city shuts down the dispensaries, the gang members will sit out front and wait for patients to come up and start dealing. It will bring that criminal element back to Garden Grove. You don't want a 68-year-old lady with cancer dealing with a cartel in a back alley, but it's going to end up that way."

 
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17 comments
pkemmesat
pkemmesat

I bet this will put an end to all the pot smoking in our country...way to go America.  I'm off to the bar to get drunk and drive home.  I have to celebrate the end of the horrible dispensaries that are ruining our lives.

vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

Well you did it finally. Buncha gangster wannabe tattoo'd morons ruined it for everyone. Speaking proper english and dressing like a normal person for a medical establishment was too much to ask apparently. 

ken31857
ken31857

Ah...that's great news for all of us who sell marijuana on the black market. All of these idiots on city councils banning dispensaries is just guaranteeing a higher profit margin for me. Can't complain about that.

paullucas714
paullucas714

A Point of information Nich,

Most people don't even know Bruce is a Democrat and almost all active Dems are embarrassed that he is registered as one. Also, myself and David James Marla's  husband will be working to form the Brownie Mary Democratic club in OC. Brownie Mary was an activist in San Fransisco who risked arrest to bring Pot Brownies to AIDS patients that were in the hospital dying and needed the brownies to help them eat and tolerate the medication for treating AIDS which is about as rough as chemo therapy for cancer. As a seriously ill person myself,  as is David James, we will need as much help as we can muster. Id like to form that club by the time of the next Garden Grove City Council Meeting.

I will put it out there for people to contact me to join the club. But be notified this is a DEMOCRATIC CLUB. That means to be a member, One must be REGISTERED to VOTE, and as a DEMOCRAT. 


I appreciate all the Libertarian newbies for Ron Paul but your reinesance (sp) of political activism is not sufficient to apply in the real world where we need professionalism and results based mindset. 

To that end, Im asking all those who wish o be part of this club to contact me. Im not that hard to find. In fact Im hard to avoid. So, to wit, I wont put my contact information up here to weed out the tourists and the real activists will be able to fund me with pretty much no real effort at all.

A Club organization within the County makes that club a part of the State Pary by default. Thus it actually has more efficacy in the State Party in that we are able to raise money, support candidates and initiatives, and we can have a presence at the State Level that bears more prowess in areas such as Party Platform, candidate Endorsements, State wide Charter etc etc. 

As far as Orange County is concerned, Im considering filing a class action suit against the County in order to force them to initiate a system in which the County must apply and implement the State law as it is in Proposition 215 and SB 5B 420.  B y this, it would be the County of Orange, or Riverside etc etc that will be the licensing agency that grants the permit to a particular dispensary to open up in the county. A population based formula i.e 1 shop per 5 thousand residents in a particular city would be the formula to determine density in a particular city. If the city has a beef with the Dispensary then thy have to take it up with the county. Done end of story.

paullucas714
paullucas714

A POint of i nformation Nich,

Most people dont even know Bruce is a Democrat and almost all active Dems are embarrassed that he is registered as one. Also, myself and David James Marla's  husband will be working to form the Brownie Mary Democratic club in OC. Brownie Mary was an activist in San Fransisco who risked arrest to bring Pot Brownies to AIDS patients that were in the hospital dying and needed the brownies to help them eat and tolerate the medication for treating AIDS which is about as rough as chemo therapy for cancer. As a seriously ill person myself,  as is David James, we will need as much help as we can muster. Id like to form that club by the time of the next Garden Grove City Council Meeting.

I will put it out there for people to contact me to join the club. But be notified this is a DEMOCRATIC CLUB. That means to be a member, One must be REGISTERED to VOTE, and as a DEMOCRAT. 


I appreciate all the Libertarian newbies for Ron Paul but your reneisance of political activism is not sufficient to apply in the rela world where we need professioanlism and results based mindset. 

To that end, Im asking all those who wish o be part of this club to contact me. Im not that hard to find. In fact Im hard to avoid. So, to wit, I wont put my contact information up here to weed out the tourists and the real activists will be able to fund me with pretty much no real effort at all.

duce
duce

man i sure remember dispensaries telling patients to vote against legalization.. if your one of those patients who bought the " quality will go down and prices will go up" argument dished out by the majority of collectives when prop 19 was on the ballot then you are part of the problem.. also I can help but think that if we had policed ourselves better we may of had a better chance although I guess running a professional collective with bud tenders in scrubs is not as fun as chicks in bikinis / neon weed leafs and gangster rap blasting out the front door...

eccnoho
eccnoho

People should have safe access to whatever they deem necessary to improve their lives ( excluding some activities of course ).  I have seen all types of people come through a clinic, and I can say that all of them appreciate being able to feel safe when they walk through the doors.  GG had so many clubs b/c surrounding cities banned them besides regulating them.  Simple regulation such as zoning laws, hours of operation, distance from schools/parks and other clinics can resolve most of the GG councils concern.  Unfortunately, I think it will require the "WILL" of the people to vote to change local municipality laws..so be it.

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

Garden Grove has a much bigger problem on it's hands. Bruce Broadwater needs to explain why people like ex Police Chief Stan Knee were acting like racist sociopaths in their capacity as US law enforcement professionals under oath. And why Joe Polisar and Kevin Raney continued/continue the criminal act to this day. 

Tommyray
Tommyray

I used to be against the dispensaries but now that the Federal Government is trying to get involved forget it,

I'm for the State going and taxing are way out of debt,

Swat Team" haaaaa what a joke how embarrassing for them.

NGCoot
NGCoot

You got it vd23 - except I wouldn't say that the stoners ruined it for everyone - however, they certainly ruined it for those with a true medical need.

JGlanton
JGlanton topcommenter

@paullucas714 So, where does a Republican or Libertarian go to help this cause?  If you don't believe in government intrusion into private lives, you don't want to see marijuana use criminalized. There are many principled R's and L's that follow that path. And to go after the property owners' private property is an abuse of government powers. That one especially makes my blood boil. 

I suggest Bruce Broadwater look at other correlations to his son's drug abuse. It's a tough situation, and I'm very sympathetic, but when I think about the people that I know who got addicted to street drugs or oxy, there are more direct correlations to their troubles than whether or not they smoked pot first. After watching a generation of teenagers grow up in my area, I can tell which ones will use drugs. The indicators for that have absolutely nothing to do with the presence of marijuana dispenseries. And they are hard to face. But the answer isn't to divert blame to something inanimate. That's the easy way out.

eccnoho
eccnoho

@duceThere were a lot of small growers etc who had problems with prop 19 and its allowance for large grow ops.  I still don't believe legalization would be anything different then what we have today.  Cities can still prohibit clinics due to zoning regardless if 19 passed or not.  Proponents of safe access will have to take this battle one city at a time.  Perhaps this will wake people up and get them more involved with local city government. 

JGlanton
JGlanton topcommenter

@18usc241 How about a specific example with facts and a timeline?  You keep popping up in threads making vague allegations and insinuations. That's meaningless!  Lay it for us. Who did what to whom, how, when, why, and where? And who saw it.

paullucas714
paullucas714

@JGlanton @paullucas714  

Jglanton,

Im sorry if I cam of brutish towards those other than Democrats. Im simply forming a group that by necessity of ots bylaws and the larger group must only include Democrats. I would be most enthusiastic to assit in anyway to form the same sort of grou within the Republican Party, or the Libertarian Party. But even then as you get into the meat of forming that group, you will run into the wall of needing x number of members of the same political party to from the group within the larger body of that political party. 

What I dont want is to have to talk over the shouting of those who have no stake in the larger framework from within we must work. There are rules and by l;aws that w must follow in order to have our voice heard at our respective conventions and thats nothing I can avoid. 

I do however encourage you to form your own version of the Brownie Mary Republican club or Libertarian clubs. We can have colloquial bar b ques that'll be fun. :o)

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

@JGlantonCongrats! You just asked the question that the City of Anaheim/Anaheim PD, the city of Garden Grove/Garden Grove PD, Orange County/Orange County Sheriffs Department, the California Highway patrol, the Orange County DA Tony Rackauckas, the Los Angeles Division of the FBI and the congressional representative Loretta Sanchez don't want to address. So much so that they would rather spin the roulette wheel flushing your taxpayer money some more trying to silence me. I've been publicly asking for help since September 2011.  

Beginning in the reign of terror known as Stan Knee, Brad Gates, Randal Gaston etc. this Hispanic lad went from never having a problem with law enforcement  to all the aforementioned law enforcement harassing me. 

What else was the difference between before and after? My involvement as an engineer for a company in Stanton where we were designing and/or lending support services to others in "law enforcement/surveillance type projects".

Oh yeah I forgot to mention, our own project was based in Bogota, Colombia with the cooperation of Colombian police forces. 

Oh yeah I forgot to mention, everyone and their mother except for me had a relationship to the American/Colombian government and/or American/Colombian law enforcement.   

Oh yeah I forgot to mention, the principals in the company that this police force were trying to screw were white male American hero types - WW2 war heros / ex Rockwell engineer types - chief engineers of the GPS project. 

All Americans should care about this because millions of US taxpayer dollars were spent committing the crime and then attempting to cover it up. And with the criminal arrogance of people who truly think that they are above the law. 

More details? See you under federal oath. 

 
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