Tony Jalali has already sent a 30-day eviction notice to the cannabis dispensary operating in his building–the one that Anaheim city officials had unsuccessfully tried to confiscate under federal asset forfeiture guidelines. But perhaps because Jalali has been fighting the city's efforts to intimidate landlords into obeying Anaheim's zero tolerance policy on pot clubs, the eviction notice wasn't good enough.
Now, city officials–acting through their high-price law firm, Best, Best & Krieger (BBK)–are seeking to have Jalali fined and possibly thrown in jail for not immediately changing the locks on his building. Specifically, on Feb. 25, Jalali will have to appear in court to answer a contempt of court complaint filed just days after the Weekly highlighted his battle with Anaheim city officials.
BBK's legal move against Jalali is just the latest in a series of actions since the Weekly's Jan. 14 feature story on Jalali, "Anaheim Officials Welcome the Kush Expo–While Suing Small Pot Shops and Their Landlords." First, just days after that article ran, the city sent Jalali's wife a letter saying she owed $500 for operating without a business license. Jalali himself also received letters demanding hundreds of dollars in similar fees.
Next, on Feb. 3, the city revised its ban on marijuana dispensaries to include stiffer penalties, including jail time, for landlords renting to pot clubs, a thinly-veiled effort to target Jalali.
"Anaheim is retaliating because Tony Jalali stood up to its attempt to steal his building through federal forfeiture," says Jalali's lawyer, Matthew Pappas. "He won the federal case and now the city must get revenge by replacing forfeiture with a new ordinance that fines landlords $2,500.00 a day."
Within 24 hours of the passage of the ordinance, Jalali reluctantly sent an eviction notice to the dispensary operating in his building. But because he refused to immediately change the locks on the doors to the club, BBK, acting on behalf of Anaheim, filed a request for a Feb. 25 hearing during which they will argue that he should be found in contempt of court.
"They are trying to do anything they can against me because they weren't able to take my building," Jalali says. "I've already evicted my tenant, but I am not changing the locks. That is illegal, unethical, and I have never done that to any of my tenants. This is unjust."