[UPDATED: Cannabis Clubs Can Reopen, Judge Says] Sue Lester, OC Weekly Cover Gal, Ordered to Close Pot Club
UPDATED, May 20, 1:09 P.M.: At a hearing this morning, Judge David Chaffee lifted the temporary restraining order against Herban Elements and the other dispensaries located at 440 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa, whose case is being argued by attorney Christopher Glew. Chaffee scheduled a June 3 hearing at which both Glew and Costa Mesa's city attorney can fight each other over whether the clubs will be able to remain permanently open.
Sue Lester tells the Weekly she's reopening her club at 4 p.m. today. "I'm pleased with the outcome," she says. " appreciate the court's decision based on the information presented. It was the right thing to do. By no means is this over with, though. Is it somewhat of a victory? Yes, but there's still a lot of issues that need to be addressed with the court."
Original Post: May 9, 2:16 P.M.: In a ruling issued late Friday, Orange County Superior Court Judge David Chaffee ordered the closure of four Costa Mesa cannabis clubs, as well as several massage parlors, all of which were operating in the same building at 440 Fair Drive. One of the clubs, Herban Elements, is owned by Sue Lester, who was profiled by the Weekly last year during her unsuccessful bid for City Council. The order declares both the dispensaries and the massage parlors to be public nuisances and orders representatives of the shuttered businesses to appear in court on May 20, should they choose to contest the order.
Besides Herban Elements, the dispensaries that shut down today include Live Well OC, Orange Coast Wellness and MedMar Patient Care Collective. The order also prevents any new cannabis clubs from operating at that address by specifically prohibiting "medical-marijuana sales, dispensing, cultivating, possession or distribution" at the address.
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Lester's attorney, Christopher Glew, said he'd be bringing evidence to court on May 20 showing that the cannabis clubs are in compliance with state law, and therefore, the city has no right to shut them down. "There have been code violations that the city has cited, and we'll show the court that all of those issues have been rectified," Glew said. "We have the right to operate these collectives under state law, and to ban them outright is a violation of their rights under the health and safety code."
For her part, Lester told the Weekly she wasn't given any time to respond to the city's declaration that her club was a nuisance. "It's not an issue of being fair, but doing what's legal," she said. "If you look at Costa Mesa's municipal code on declaring someone a nuisance, you have to issue a notice, give reasonable time to correct, the City Council should hold a hearing and then they can move through the court to abate the nuisance. I wasn't given reasonable time to respond. The whole thing stinks, and if they can do this to someone like me, they can to it to anybody, and that's not right."
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