7 Lake Forest pot shops told to shut down

7 Lake Forest pot shops told to shut down


LAKE FOREST – The city has been granted temporary restraining orders to close seven medical marijuana dispensaries operating illegally within the city and located within 600 feet of a Montessori school, city officials said Friday.

Orange County Superior Court Judge David Chaffee granted the city’s request to close the pot shops located in a building on Raymond Way near Montessori Children’s School House, 24601 Raymond Way. The Montessori offers a kindergarten class.

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Damon Harris, left, manager at the Lake Forest Wellness Center and Collective shows samples to customers. The dispensary had been told to shutdown last summer but appealed the judges order. It is now on the list of seven who are located within 600 feet of a school. City officials expect to proceed against it and other dispensaries in early May.

The judge found that Vale Tudo Café, 24601 Raymond #9B, Lake Forest Community Collective, 24602 Raymond Way #201, Lake Forest Wellness Center & Collective, 24602 Raymond Way #203, Lake Forest Patient’s Collective/Florentina Organic, 24602 Raymond Way #208, Independent Collective of Orange County, 24602 Raymond Way #209, and The Health Collective, 24602 Raymond Way #210, are in violation of a new state law that prohibits marijuana dispensaries from operating within 600 feet of a school.

“We are pleased to see state law catch up with our stance that marijuana stores are not a compatible land use near schools,” Mayor Peter Herzog said. “We will continue to aggressively pursue our stance that marijuana stores were not contemplated on our land use plan and are therefore not allowed in any area of our city.”

City Attorney Scott Smith said the dispensaries are subject to the temporary restraining order as soon as served. A court hearing is scheduled next month on a preliminary injunction.

“The council has indicated it is completely unwilling to compromise the city’s quality of life in these neighborhoods, especially in such close proximity to schoolchildren,” he said.

In March, the city filed lawsuits against Patient Farmers Cooperative on Lake Forest Drive and World Cann Wellness Center on Enterprise Court. A complaint was also filed against David H. Tayyanipour Trust, owner of the Enterprise Court property. With these actions, the city is seeking to close the marijuana stores and collect attorney fees and expenses. The city is engaged in litigation with all marijuana stores operating in the city. Officials believe 12 continue to operate.

“These lawsuits should serve as a warning to any potential business operators, leasing agents and property owners that marijuana stores violate the city’s zoning code and that the city will take legal action to close these illegal businesses,” Smith said. “If additional marijuana stores are discovered, further complaints will be filed.”

In December, Lake Forest filed lawsuits against Pharmer’s Choice Collective and Lake Forest Discount Caregivers, which had just opened a few weeks before. The city also filed complaints against Youssef Ibrahim and H&H Investments, owners of the property where the dispensaries are located.

The four lawsuits follow 11 filed last year against other medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. The city claimed the dispensaries violated the city’s zoning code. In May 2010, Chaffee agreed with the city and issued an order requiring all medical marijuana dispensaries in Lake Forest to close immediately.

At that time, Chaffee wrote “all defendants and their officers, agents, employees, representatives and all persons acting in concert or participating with them are prohibited and restrained from engaging in committing, providing the location or performing by any means activity related to the distribution of marijuana.”

With the order, the city began demanding pot shops close. Several did, including 215 Agenda (operating as Bulzi Rx), Vale Tudo Café, Lake Forest Patients Collective Association, Lake Forest Wellness Center and Collective, Earth Cann Wellness Center, Evergreen Holistic Collective, Independent Collective of Orange County, GGECO (operating as Care Mutual), The Health Collective, New Amsterdam Cooperative and Lake Forest Community Collective.

However, five collectives appealed Chaffee’s ruling to the 4th District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana, attempting to stay open. The court of appeal set aside the judge’s order in June. A final ruling has not been made.

“Lake Forest was inundated with marijuana dispensaries,” City Councilman Scott Voigts said. “The city’s main focus is public safety. When you have that many in one city, it’s bad for the residents of that city, and it violates city zoning.”

Contact the writer: 949-454-7307 or eritchie@ocregister.com

One response to this post.

  1. can’t the city find other, more useful and, compassionate ways to spend the money we give it?


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