Scroll down to the end of the post for updates.
Original Post, May 8, 10:42 a.m.: For the past few years, Garden Grove has been one of the most reliably 420-friendly cities in California. It remains the last bastion of the movement in Orange County, where city-wide pot-shop bans and federal crackdowns (also carried out with the cooperation of local officials, most recently in Santa Ana and Anaheim), have effectively shut down the medical marijuana marketplace.
But all that seems to be drawing to a close. Sources tell OC Weekly that all the dispensaries currently operating in Garden Grove have been warned that they face criminal prosecution if they don't shut down within the week.
Meanwhile, the city is apparently scheduled to discuss the future of cannabis storefronts at its next meeting, Tuesday, May 14 at 6 p.m. Although no agenda has been published, activists who are in touch with city hall are reporting that officials are likely to consider enforcing Garden Grove's ban on marijuana dispensaries, which was suspended in 2011.
Activists are urging anyone who has a stake in this discussion to send written materials to the attention of the city clerk at Garden Grove City Hall, P. O. Box 3070, Garden Grove, CA 92842.
Update, May 14, 11:30 a.m.: Today, every storefront marijuana dispensary operating in Garden Grove must shut its doors and split with the stash or else face police raids and fines of $1000 per day. That's because the one-week deadline city officials granted to allow cannabis collectives to vacate their premises has officially expired.
Marla James, president of the Orange County chapter of Americans for Safe Access, says that the city is discriminating against patients who are sick and that by effectively banning dispensaries, Garden Grove will only line the pockets of drug dealers.
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"What's going to happen today is what happened in Costa Mesa when they closed those dispensaries," James argues, referring to raids carried out by federal drug authorities and city police in January 2012. "The gang members will sit out front and wait for patients to come up and start dealing, [and say] 'I got pot, really good deal.' It will bring that criminal element back to Garden Grove, which is not good for Garden Grove.'
Update, May 16, 10:05 a.m.: Well, that was easy. In a press release issued late yesterday, the Garden Grove Police Department confirms that it sent officers to all 62 storefront marijuana dispensaries to make sure they complied with the shut-down-or-get-shut-down deadline issued a week ago. "All 62 dispensaries were closed," the release states.
According to the Orange County Register, at the city council meeting Tuesday evening, Mayor Bruce Broadwater read aloud a list of crimes associated with the now-shuttered dispensaries, including armed robberies. He told medical marijuana activists that if they were unhappy with the city's ban, to complain to state and federal lawmakers. "If you want to smoke marijuana, do it in another city," the paper quoted him as telling activists. "Don't do it in Garden Grove."