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Medical marijuana farmers market in L.A. temporarily closed by judge

Trials and ArbitrationJustice SystemLaws and LegislationMike Feuer
A judge temporarily shuts down L.A. farmers market for medical marijuana users
L.A. says medical marijuana farmers market violates city law
An Aug. 6 hearing is set to decide whether L.A. marijuana farmers market will be permanently closed

A Boyle Heights farmers market for medical marijuana users has been temporarily shut down by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge.

The judge's ruling Tuesday grants a temporary restraining order sought by Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer to stop the California Heritage Market operations, saying it failed to comply with the city's voter-approved law regulating marijuana dispensaries.

"The bottom line is that we argued successfully that this so-called farmers market was an attempt to make an end-run around the will of the people," Feuer said. "The court saw through this subterfuge."

Los Angeles voters passed Proposition D last year, establishing legal parameters under which marijuana dispensaries could do business in the city.

The court's ruling, Feuer said, supports the "spirit and the letter of Proposition D."

The cannabis market opened to a booming business over the Fourth of July weekend, attracting hundreds of customers and an array of growers offering marijuana buds with airy names such as Blue Dream and Banana Kush along with marijuana-infused balms, sunblock, lollipops, tea and even a waffle mix.

Customers, who were required to show their IDs and prove they could legally buy pot, said they appreciated being able to cut the "middleman" out of the equation and buy their product at a discount straight from the growers.

Jamie Brown of First Choice Farms said he found the marketplace to be "absolute genius," a place where customers could find out about different strains of marijuana.

But the temporary injunction issued Tuesday halts all that for now by restricting the market's operators from setting up booths and advertising it, according to legal documents. Police and fire officials must also be granted access to the site.

"The court was very clear: There could be no multiple vendors selling at this site, only bona fide employees," Feuer said.

The market — which attracted both old and young, tattooed and clean-cut — was held over the Fourth of July weekend in a warehouse directly behind the West Coast Collective dispensary in an industrial zone in Boyle Heights.

The following weekend, the market opened again.

Proposition D, Feuer said, does not allow multiple, independent vendors to sell on one site.

"That's essentially what this business model was," Feuer said.

But attorney David Welch, who represents the Progressive Horizon collective, said Feuer's argument doesn't make sense.

He said a farmers market is no different from a dispensary in that they both sell goods from a variety of vendors.

"Their arguments are basically a misunderstanding on how this business operates," he said.

The city's actions, Welch said, were essentially proving that "you can't actually open a marijuana dispensary" in Los Angeles.

A hearing is scheduled Aug. 6 to determine whether the market will be permanently closed.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Trials and ArbitrationJustice SystemLaws and LegislationMike Feuer
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