Long Beach Council Revokes Business License of Property Owner Over Defunct Marijuana Dispensary

In a seemingly innocuous decision, the City Council in Long Beach recently voted to revoke the license of a strip mall property owner. cannabisindica.jpg

Los Angeles medical marijuana lawyers know that this would have been one of the countless, mundane matters of city government that rarely raises an eyebrow – were it not for the disputed reason why the city took the action it did.

The city says that the owner of the property housed an illegal marijuana operation, which was housed at the same address of a permitted gay-friendly bar. However, the property owner argued he tried to evict the dispensary, which was illegal under the city’s ban. However, the dispensary owner in the course of that action was successful in obtaining from the court a stay on the eviction, meaning the property owner couldn’t legally kick him out until the court gave him the Ok.

Previously, the city had sent letters to the dispensary owner, warning that it was in violation of city code, as it had no fire or safety inspections conducted and it was operating without an individual business license. The dispensary reportedly ignored these warnings for a time and continued to operate.

The city, taking a page out of the playbook of federal authorities, decided in turn to go after the property owner, warning him that if he did not evict the dispensary, he would be fined and his business license in jeopardy. But that brings us back to the property owner’s original dilemma – which as that he couldn’t legally evict the dispensary.

This dilemma went on through last month. At the end of September, a judge lifted the stay on the eviction, and those proceedings moved forward, with the dispensary eventually vacating the property entirely on Oct. 24.

You would think that would resolve the matter. For the Long Beach City Council members, apparently, it did not. They pushed forward to revoke the business license of the property owner. In fact, it did so five days before the court in the eviction case lifted the stay.

Why would the city not hold off on its decision until the court had ruled on the eviction issue? Essentially, it seems they wanted to circumvent the legal process. In the end, the property owner, according to his attorney, is being punished for obeying the law.

A report submitted by the city on the matter says that while the property owner had taken all practical steps to have the dispensary removed, that did not alter the conclusion that the city deemed him to be in violation of code.

All of this, of course, had the effect of damaging a number of other businesses in that same strip mall location. These were businesses, like the gay-friendly bar, that had nothing to do whatsoever with the dispute, and were merely tenants. A full revocation of the property owner’s business license means he is restricted from obtaining another one for a full year. That leaves the other tenants completely high and dry.

This has become indicative of the repeated injustices perpetuated by the city of Long Beach, and other similar municipal bodies.

Fight back. Call us.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:
Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ignites Feud Between Property Owner And City Of Long Beach, Nov. 6, 2012, By Joshua H. Silavent, Long Beach Business Journal
More Blog Entries:
Conviction of Medical Marijuana Co-Op Manager Reversed, Oct. 31, 2012, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog