Fresno County moves to shut down medical marijuana shops

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, August 10, 2011 13:37 EDT
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Officials in Fresno County, California voted last night in favor of a controversial measure that bans all distribution of medical marijuana and forces production into warehouses along the county’s industrial areas.

Growers and sellers are almost certain to challenge the ordinance in court, arguing that it violates the state law’s guarantee of patient access to medical marijuana.

“We understand that there’s a legitimate need for medical marijuana for some people in Fresno County, but what we experienced in the last two years is a complete abuse of the growing of medical marijuana in Fresno County as well as some of the dispensaries that aren’t properly dispensing and are causing problems in our neighborhoods and schools,” Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea reportedly said, explaining his vote in favor of the ordinance.

The measure orders a total of 15 medical marijuana shops to close down within six months or face zoning violations. While that alone may not be enough to force them to close down, the county could drag them into zoning hearings and then take them to court to get an injunction and force them out of business.

It is unclear if Fresno’s ordinance will stand up in court: a judge in a Tulare County case late last year initially refused to issue a temporary injunction sought based upon a zoning violation, citing prior commercial activity in the same building that the county never sought to shut down.

In spite of that decision, the judge ultimately granted the injunction at trial this week, because attorneys for the dispensary could not escape from being called a “dispensary,” nor could they show how prior enforcement inactivity should prevent the county from acting today.

Image credit: Flickr commons.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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