OCEANSIDE: Judge orders marijuana dispensary closed
By: Ray Huard, North County Times
A Vista Superior Court judge issued a permanent injunction Friday to close a South Coast Highway medical marijuana dispensary, but said his order won't take effect until Sept. 9 to give the collective time to appeal.
North County Collective operator John Scandalios said outside the courtroom that he will ask the 4th District Court of Appeal in San Diego to overturn the injunction issued by Judge Earl Maas.
Scandalios said the collective will stay open for business at 913 S. Coast Highway at least through Sept. 9 pending the appeal.
If he does stay open, Scandalios will be operating illegally and be subject to further sanctions by the city, Deputy City Attorney Annie Perrigo said outside the courtroom.
"They need to shut down. It's illegal," Perrigo said. "The city could still file criminal charges."
Maas ruled that North County Collective was operating illegally because it failed to get a city business license.
Lance Rogers, a lawyer for North County Collective, said Sandalios tried to get a business license, but city officials wouldn't even let him apply because a zoning code adopted in January doesn't include marijuana dispensaries among businesses allowed to operate in Oceanside.
Rogers argued that the zoning ordinance amounted to "a de facto ban" on medical marijuana dispensaries, which he said are allowed under state law.
In issuing the permanent injunction, Maas said he wasn't considering whether medical dispensaries had a right to operate in Oceanside or whether the city's actions in using zoning regulations to keep them out was appropriate.
"The decision is focused solely on the failure to get a business license, not on the bigger issues, which need to be resolved sooner or later," Maas said.
To challenge the city's actions, he said a dispensary must provide evidence that it tried to get a license but was denied.
"You can't skip the process. You can't say, 'I'm going to open for business anyway,'" Maas said.
More than 20 people filled the courtroom wearing green clothing to show their support for the dispensary.
Maas noted their presence and what he said was their effort to show they were "ordinary people who need help."
"I understand that," he said.
North County Collective is one of several dispensaries that the city has gone to court to close.
Others are Green Ocean Collective on El Camino Real, Abaca Medical Collective on South Coast Highway and CKS on Oceanside Boulevard.
Abaca and CKS have filed court challenges to the city's actions.
Perrigo said new dispensaries have opened on North Coast Highway and El Camino Real.
She said no decision has been made on whether to do anything about them.
Besides seeking an injunction to close North County Collective, the city has filed a civil suit against the collective and Scandalios seeking fines of $2,500 a day for every day they operate.
No date has been set for a trial on the lawsuit.