In a surprise move last night, Anaheim's city council passed a revised ordinance strengthening its already strict prohibition on medical marijuana dispensaries. With only Mayor Tom Tait opposing the move, the council threatened landlords who knowingly rent to pot clubs with up to a year in jail and fines of up to $2500 per day that they don't comply with the law.
The new ordinance comes just a few weeks after the city–represented by California's most powerful anti-marijuana law firm, Best, Best & Krieger (BBK)–won its lawsuit against Tony Jalali, whose building the city had hoped to confiscate until the federal government backed out of that effort following critical news reports originating in this paper.
Just days after the Weekly published a feature story on Anaheim's fruitless attempt to seize Jalali's building, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that it was restricting the government's use of asset forfeiture against property owners. With its new ordinance, Anaheim seems to be switching tactics. Instead of threatening to seize property, which it can't do, the city is now simply threatening landlords with hefty fines and possible jail time.
In seeking to make the argument that marijuana dispensaries aren't just a nuisance but a public safety issue, the city's draft ordinance contains numerous examples of criminal activity ranging from burglary to armed robbery and murder that have occurred throughout California in recent years. Referring specifically to Anaheim, the ordinance cites unsafe power generators and unsanitary conditions at certain dispensaries, both of which were somewhat predictable consequences of the city's recent move to turn off electricity and water services to buildings where pot clubs were operating.
In keeping with his desire to follow the law, Jalali says that yesterday, as soon as he learned of the city's new ordinance, he sent an eviction notice to the dispensary that has been operating in his building. "The lawyer for BBK told me that I need to change the lock and evict the guy," Jalali says. "I said I have never done that, that is unethical. So yesterday I sent a certified letter to the dispensary giving him 30 days to close."
According to Jalali, the city's new ordinance is a thinly veiled attempt to seek revenge against him because of his legal fight to protect the rights of patients in Anahiem. "The whole city is run by BBK," he claims. "They are the one proposing this ordinance and regulating it, and making all the money. BBK is going to bankrupt the city. We will fight it all the way."