Bucking the trend of Orange County cities who are doing everything they can to shut down medical marijuana clubs within their borders, Garden Grove is taking the opposite tack. Instead of suing the clubs out of existence, city officials are planning to ask them to register like any other business. Like several other cities throughout Orange County, not to mention unincorporated areas of the county, Garden Grove currently has a ban on pot clubs. But city manager Matt Fertal told the Orange County Register in an article published yesterday that the ban is “unenforceable.”
Thus, at the next city council meeting on July 25, the city council will vote on whether to reverse the ban and require medical marijuana dispensaries that are either already open or that hope to locate in Garden Grove to stop by city hall and fill out some paperwork. As the Register story points out, the city has already spent over $200,000 in a four-year court battle with Felix Kha, who was detained by police officers with eight grams of marijuana.
After providing the police with a valid doctor's note stating that he is allowed under state law to possess the weed, Kha demanded it be returned to him, and in June 2009, he won his lawsuit and the city had to pay his legal fees.
Fertal told the Register that the city's ban carries too much risk of further litigation, but that officials will be quick to fine any cannabis collective that fails to register. “his way we know who is in our city and where they are located,” Fertal explained. “Once we know that, we will be performing background checks into the individuals who are running these operations.”
Assuming the city council vote goes as expected, Fertal added, the city's next step would be to pass a zoning ordinance, mirroring state laws already in place, that would prohibit cannabis clubs from operating too close to schools or homes.