Group wants license

In an attempt to "dot the I's and cross the T's," a medical marijuana advocacy group is seeking a writ of mandate to be licensed as a business in Costa Mesa on top of a lawsuit they filed against the city last month.

"The fastest road to an appeal is the writ process," said attorney Anthony Curiale, who is representing the Newport Mesa Patients Assn. in their filings against Costa Mesa.

On June 7, the group filed a writ of mandate requesting a judge order Costa Mesa city officials accept their application for a business license and the fee that goes with it.

The collective has more than 200 medical marijuana users.

"We're asking the superior court to do one of two things: order the city to accept the application or issue us a business license because we're entitled to one," Curiale said.

Marijuana dispensaries have been operating illegally in Costa Mesa since last year. Many were given licenses issued for alternative health or nutrition businesses.

Curiale seemed confident his writ of mandate will be rejected. But that's all part of the process. Where he plans to fight Costa Mesa's law is in the Court of Appeal. He said a writ of mandate request would get them before a panel of appeals judges faster than a typical lawsuit.

In a lawsuit filed in early May, the group sued Costa Mesa over its ordinance prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. The group claims it's not a dispensary and the word "dispensary" is not defined in state and federal laws. The plaintiff in the case is the head of the collective, Robert Martinez.

Martinez claims Costa Mesa is depriving him of his right to medical treatment permitted under state law.

Last month, a federal judge rejected a lawsuit that asserted dispensaries in Costa Mesa and Lake Forest were protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act guaranteeing access to public services.

Costa Mesa police began shutting down dispensaries this year. There are about 10 in the city, police said.

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