Orange County Superior Court Judge David R. Chaffee has issued a temporary restraining order against the implementation of Santa Ana's Measure BB, which created a lottery system to allow legal cannabis collectives to operate in the city. Chaffee's May 30 move came in response to a series of lawsuits by medical marijuana collectives that failed to win any of the 20 slots awarded by city officials in a controversial Feb 5 lottery in February, one of whose winners was Cypress Hill's B-Real.
As the Weekly previously reported, while there were only a limited number of addresses that city zoning and other restrictions allowed to compete in the lottery process, officials placed no limit on the number of applications they would allow, thus opening the door to entities capable of paying multiple fees to effectively stuff the ballot by submitting multiple bids.
A hearing on the restraining order is scheduled for June 19. According to attorney Randall Longwith, who helped craft Measure BB and whose clients won the lottery, the lawsuits effectively argue that because the city's application process was vaguely defined, the results should be invalidated. “What they found when they wen through the applications, two or three people put in multiple applications on the same property,” Longwith explained. “Since multiple people put in two or three [applications] under a single name under a single property, they are saying that tainted the entire lottery and interfered with their ability to have a fair chance at winning.”
For his part, Longwith said that, because several of the winning slots were attached to street addresses that are no longer viable to house a cannabis dispensary, applicants that lost in the first round of competition shouldn't seek to have the entire process thrown out. “The 20 picked are not going to be the ones to open,” he argued. “All 640 individuals and groups are still valid, and losers of the lottery process remain on a city waiting list. I know of certain locations of the 20 that are simply no longer in the running.”
Meanwhile, though the city is already raiding dispensaries that failed to win last February and are still operating in violation of the city's ban on pot clubs. Medical marijuana activist Marla James and her husband David happened to be at one of the dispensaries a week ago when Santa Ana Police raided the location.
“David and I were observing in one of the collectives,” Marla said. “We were actually there to observe a raid. We knew the raid was going to happen. We were there to make sure that the employees did not offer resistance. We had trained them what to do, which was not to talk and do exactly what the police told them to do.”
According to Marla, police ordered all employees to lay on the floor with their hands over their heads. “I looked at them and said, 'I'm not laying on the floor.'” Police then instructed Marla to remain seated–as an amputee, she's confined to a wheelchair–but to raise her hands over her head. Again, she refused, saying the position was too painful for her, given her rheumatoid arthritis.
Both Marla and David received tickets for violating the city's anti-marijuana ordinance. The same went for the rest of the employees detained during the raid, all of whom were brought to the police station for processing. According to Marla, she and her husband plan to continue defying the city's ban.
“This particular collective was one of the most compliant collectives we had ever worked in,” she told the Weekly. “They are probably the most compliant as far as the state rules go. And they are, they were. It will re-open. David and I will go back, and perhaps get re-arrested.”
Award-winning investigative journalist Nick Schou is Editor of OC Weekly. He is the author of Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb (Nation Books 2006), which provided the basis for the 2014 Focus Features release starring Jeremy Renner and the L.A. Times-bestseller Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love’s Quest to bring Peace, Love and Acid to the World, (Thomas Dunne 2009). He is also the author of The Weed Runners (2013) and Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood (2016).