Yesterday was a wild day for dispensaries in SanTana. Following the raid at Sky High Holistic Collective, the Santa Ana Cannabis Association—the group of Measure BB-compliant medical cannabis dispensaries in the city—filed a civil suit against 14 unlicensed dispensaries in town.
Attorney David Welch argues that Measure BB was established to provide guidelines for the operation of a medical marijuana dispensary, including the requirements for obtaining a license to operate such a business. “This license is one that all 14 of these facilities fail to possess,” said Welch in a statement. “Aside from licensing, these facilities do not pay city taxes, provide proper onsite ventilation, which negatively affects the air of surrounding communities, and have not ensured their employees have undergone background checks.”
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Matthew Pappas, Sky High’s attorney and one of the dispensaries named in the lawsuit, was unaware of the legal action until hours after Welch's firm released a statement announcing it. Pappas and colleagues Jennifer McGrath and Edward Pinchiff want to represent all 14 unlicensed, or “rogue,” dispensaries in the case. At the very least, however, they’ll file cross-action lawsuits on behalf of the collectives they currently represent.
“These lawyers are suing dispensaries who did not engage in bribery and corrupt actions, unlike those who were involved in the corrupt lottery system,” says a statement released by McGrath, Pappas and Pinchiff. “The actions taken by Welch and his partners to protect the profits of their clients who obtained licenses through political contributions and anti-competitive methods are not only improper, but designed to harm the patients for whom medical cannabis was provided by the voters. Those patients who have been harmed by Santa Ana will fight back to stop the corruption.”
Welch points out that it’s been two years since Santa Ana passed Measure BB and the unlicensed collectives have yet to be shut down. The mission of the Santa Ana Cannabis Association, according to a press release, is to help ensure medical marijuana businesses are in compliance with the laws, as well as to facilitate safe access to legal medical cannabis to the citizens of Santa Ana. Welch argues that the unlicensed dispensaries run counter to this mission and directly violate the rules and regulations set forth by Measure BB.
Pappas' team isn't buying it. “The corruption and bribery involved with the passage of Measure BB and the lottery was only to advance a crooked cause,” says a spokesperson. “This is only the tip of the iceberg.”