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Court blocks Church of the Holy Grail from dispensing marijuana in Newport Beach

Court blocks Church of the Holy Grail from dispensing marijuana in Newport Beach
An Orange County Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order on Friday against Church of the Holy Grail to prevent it from operating in Newport Beach. City officials say it is a marijuana dispensary violating city law. (File Photo)

A marijuana dispensary the city of Newport Beach claims is operating without a permit must cease operations for now, according to an Orange County Superior Court ruling.

Judge Thomas Delaney on Friday granted the city’s request for a temporary restraining order at the Church of the Holy Grail at 2072 Bristol St.

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Brick-and-mortar marijuana dispensaries are prohibited under municipal code. Cultivation, processing, distribution and delivery of cannabis have been banned citywide since 2016.

Newport Beach filed a lawsuit last month seeking an injunction to permanently forbid the Church of the Holy Grail from operating.

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Delaney granted the request for a temporary restraining order to stop the organization from conducting business at the location until after a hearing set for July 19.

Delaney could decide to make the order more permanent at the hearing, according to Orange County Superior Court records.

Newport Beach City Attorney Aaron Harp said the property owner, A&T Newport Beach Real Estate LLC, indicated it would comply with Delaney’s order.

It is unclear whether the location has closed. A woman who answered the phone at the Church of the Holy Grail on Tuesday declined to comment when asked if the business was open.

The dispensary has been running without a business license since at least Jan. 24, according to the lawsuit, but it’s unclear when the church began overall operations.

Cristian Peirano, the organization’s attorney, wrote in a letter to the city in February that the location’s use of marijuana is “a lawful exercise of religion,” according to the lawsuit.

Peirano did not immediately return a call seeking further comment Tuesday.

Newport Beach police launched an investigation after the department received a tip in January that the property was a dispensary, according to the lawsuit.

In late January, city code enforcement sent A&T Newport Beach Real Estate LLC a notice ordering the “illegal activity” to stop, the lawsuit states.

According to the suit, authorities determined during undercover police operations in early February and early June that the property was being used as a pot dispensary.

The city has sent the organization four administrative citations in an effort to force it to close, according to the lawsuit. The citations state the church is in violation of city law.

Church of the Holy Grail is listed on Weedmaps — an online marijuana forum — as a dispensary selling marijuana herbs, extracts, edibles and topical products. Church of the Holy Grail has been a “member” since May 2017, according to the site. Customers give it 4.9 out of five stars.

The organization wrote on Weedmaps that its “ministry centers provide individualized faith counseling to members in conjunction with Q’Aneh-Bosm and its herbal components.”

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