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Lakeland Village Marijuana Dispensaries Ordered To Close

Out of 11 pot dispensaries found to be operating in Lakeland Village, 10 have been handed cease and desist orders by Riverside County code enforcement, according to Greg Flannery, code division manager for the county.

The county is forcing medical marijuana dispensaries out of Lakeland Village, but don’t expect to see guns blazing.

Out of 11 pot dispensaries found to be operating in Lakeland Village, 10 have been handed cease and desist orders by Riverside County code enforcement, not law enforcement, according to Greg Flannery, code division manager for the county.

“We are working it from a land-use issue,” Flannery said, explaining that of the 10 dispensaries ordered to close, five have shut their doors to date.

Failing to follow a cease and desist order can be expensive: The options are a court challenge, or stay open and pay the consequences of additional citations that can cost a property owner $500 to $1,000 a day, Flannery said.

“The property owners often don’t know their tenants are dispensing,” he said. “Once they find out, they usually get them (the dispensaries) out.”

Lakeland Village has a high number of dispensaries compared to other areas, according to Flannery, but Riverside County has a zero-tolerance policy on dispensing pot. Operations are allowed to cultivate cannabis for medical purposes, but they can’t dispense the drug.

Lake Elsinore and Wildomar also ban marijuana dispensaries, but state courts have yet to rule on the legality of these types of county and city ordinances.

Under California's Compassionate Use Act of 1996, qualified patients and their primary caregivers are permitted "to use, possess and cultivate marijuana for medical purposes without criminal prosecution."

In 2003 the Medical Marijuana Program was also enacted in the state. The program established, among other things, a voluntary registration of qualified medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers through a statewide identification card system.

But the state law conflicts with federal law, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. Under federal law, cannabis is a controlled substance, just like heroin or cocaine, and medicinal use is not permitted.

Last year, however, in the medical marijuana case of Qualified Patients Association v. City of Anaheim, California's Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that federal law does not preempt state law. But the court chose not to decide whether California cities and counties can ban medical marijuana dispensing, and remanded the case back to Orange County Superior Court for further factual development.

In a move that could further deregulate the process, HR 2306, otherwise known as the Ending Federal Prohibition of Marijuana Act, was introduced in June. Sponsored by Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, Texas Republican Ron Paul and others, the bill would remove marijuana from the five schedules of the United States Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

Proponents believe the bill, if passed, would open the door for states to pass their own laws, regulations and taxes regarding marijuana, without threat of a federal challenge.

Flannery, himself a former cancer patient, said he understands that some people may truly benefit from marijuana.

“Some folks have legitimate medical needs,” he explained. “It’s not our job to judge. We’re there to enforce county code.”

For the most part, Lakeland Village dispensary owners are cooperative, Flannery said.

“They’re usually nice people. Often times, they’re just mom and pops who don’t understand the county code.

Flannery said building code violations are also handed out when necessary.

“If there is a health or safety issue, we’ll also cite them for that,” he explained.

None of the Lakeland Village facilities have challenged the marijuana dispensary ban, although two lawsuits brought forth by facilities outside the area are pending against Riverside County, Flannery said.

“Some of them (dispensaries) are heavily lawyered up,” he said, explaining that these types of lawsuits cost upward of $150,000 to defend and, with uncertainty surrounding medical marijuana bans, there is no guarantee the county can prevail.

“I think a lot of people are waiting for the courts to decide the issue,” Flannery said.

Editor's note: Several Lakeland Village dispensaries were contacted for this article, but none were willing to go on the record.

Diana August 02, 2011 at 10:42 PM
Well code enforcement is finally doing "THEIR" job, they have ran every "LEGAL" business off of Grand Avenue it's about time they went after the pot dealers......FYI there are currently two dispensaries operating within the City limits of Lake Elsinore and the Council was made aware of this months ago and they have done nothing....good bye seedy, tacky green buildings and pot leaf signs and hello to alot of vacant, deserted buildings along Grand Ave, with all these empty buildings maybe the County will go forward with there project of beautification on Grand Ave that they approved years ago.
Keith Allen August 03, 2011 at 03:22 AM
Beautification would be nice but there is no money
D A August 03, 2011 at 02:52 PM
Just a sign of too much government... mixed motives, lack of direction, and no real plan. But then again they have let that that denist that works out of his home continue to stay in business for over 15 years. He's not licensed by the dental board to see patients but he does and the city gave him a business license. oh so sad how they pick and choose what laws they want to enforce
Marlsh August 04, 2011 at 06:12 AM
someone needs to figure out the law and step up to the plate. Is it legal or not? Yes or no and then we can all move on.
Shirley Robison August 04, 2011 at 06:53 AM
omg its legal now so leave them alone its just like any other bussiness you dont have to go there if you dont want to
Son of Liberty August 23, 2011 at 01:49 PM
Yes, I am tired of seeing all the coop's advertising on there walls to the public,but it is there right as other business to advertise. And yes there are too many on Grand Ave. for all to be non-profit. Its not like same denomination churches are being put next to the same denomination church, because they would not get the same amount of non-profit donations due to half the congregation went next door. Competitive non-profit next door to each other on Grand, some need to go. I disagree on the other hand in which Beaurocracy says Bust them all.......our court system needs more booty. If they try to fight it, the system gets paid. The county, Greg Flannery, the Judge, the cops, the lawyers, the courts, all get paid. The medical patients, looks as if they will have to get it from the black market. But wait....this is good too, now when they get caught trying to get madicated they can be arrested and the system wins again.For instance San Diego and San Berdino lost there appeals and were denied for another by the 9th court of appeals, yet they still dont listen to the law. Who is the real VILLIAN here? tax payer $ wasted by an inability to accept the courts ruling AGAIN and AGAIN! Such a scam....TAX COLLECTORS by intimidation....Thugs period
Chalino Sanchez October 08, 2011 at 07:31 PM
The crime will increase with the empty businesses it will leave behind. Its a a proven fact.
UNCLE FESTER December 21, 2011 at 08:12 AM
$150,000 to defend these places..? good thing they're "in it to help and not profit from it" . doesn't this sound familiar ? get real..grey areas, loop holes and all the other EXCUSES has proved all these things, no one really understands the law, how its works, or how to run one of these places with out persecution. just make them look like quiet,non-descript little businesses, and get the bogus doctors to stop selling the "cards" to anyone with 50 bucks, they might just be able to do this . there are REAL PEOPLE out there who need this and thats fine with me. some take Valium, oxycodone, even methadone, no one stops them... the pharmacies love the business. now clean up the mess you've made and prove that you're here to help and not just to profit thru the loop holes and selling weed to 18 year olds who have NO REAL REASON TO "NEED IT" .. ok, maybe 3 or 4 of them do but, you know what i mean... i bet no one would even care where you opened up if they didnt see the traffic, stupid signs , big green pot leaves, green crosses and other so called "card holders", stumbling in and out all day.... do you really need to attract that kind of attention ? most successful pot dealers dont even have business cards....this is all just stupid. they will eventually tax pot and then what? move on to heroin ? oh goody.... it will never end... the methadone clinics have proved that already . now theres a real treat to see.. how about we open one of those in YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD ?

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