June 11, 2011

Rancho Bernardo Medical Marijuana Dispensary Allowed To Stay Open

June 11, 2011
medical cannabis protester

Medical Marijuana ProtesterJudge’s ruling allows medical pot dispensary to stay open

By Dana Littlefield

Originally published 1:13 p.m., June 10, 2011, updated 1:41 p.m., June 10, 2011
SAN DIEGO – A judge denied a request Friday for a court order to shut down a Rancho Bernardo medical marijuana dispensary, which a property owners group claims is a public nuisance.

San Diego Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer upheld his tentative ruling on the preliminary injunction, stating in part that the Bernardo Town Center Property Owners Association had not proved that the dispensary violates state and federal law.

Erik Rynko, director of MediBloom, Inc., said he was pleased with the judge’s decision. He said several people, including patients who suffer from cancer, multiple sclerosis and other medical conditions, rely on the marijuana collective.

“We’re following all state laws and we’re here providing a service to the community of Rancho Bernardo,” he said outside the courtroom.

MediBloom opened April 1 in a business park on Avena Place near Bernardo Center Drive. A few weeks later, the property owners association filed a lawsuit, contending that the collective violates federal laws by distributing a controlled substance.

The association also contends that MediBloom is not permitted under the group’s covenants, conditions and restrictions because medical marijuana dispensaries are neither medical clinics nor private clubs, both of which are allowed.

Additionally, the association argues that MediBloom is a public nuisance that has disturbed other tenants in the business park and visitors to nearby Webb Park.

“We’re not trying to stop them from doing that business, we’re trying to stop them from doing it on our premises,” said attorney Rian Jones, who represents the property owners association.

But Meyer wrote in his tentative ruling that the plaintiff had not submitted enough evidence to support the public nuisance claim. He said also that MediBloom could fall under the categories of “medical clinic” and “private club,” although the association had not defined those terms in its contracts.

Those issues, the judge said, may be decided in trial.

Meyer also said that although MediBloom may violate federal law, it does comply with the state’s Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and the Medical Marijuana Program Act, which allow the possession, use and distribution of medical marijuana to patients.

“Federal law does not pre-empt the state,” Meyer said Friday.

Lance Rogers, the attorney who defended former dispensary operator Jovan Jackson in two criminal court trials, said after the hearing that the MediBloom case represents an “interesting situation” because it is a legal challenge by a private association, rather than law enforcement or a city council.

“I’m hopeful that the residents of Rancho Bernardo will understand that similar to a pharmacy, a medical marijuana collective provides medicine to patients who have recommendations for medical marijuana, and they’re not going anywhere.”

The property owners association could appeal the judge’s ruling, but it was not immediately clear Friday whether its representatives will to do that.


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