Medical marijuana advocate arrested at grocery store

An Irvine woman was arrested Thursday after she refused to leave the property in front of a Costa Mesa grocery store, where she was collecting signatures in hopes of placing a medical marijuana dispensary referendum on November's ballot.

Deborah Tharp, 39, was arrested on suspicion of obstructing police and trespassing for refusing to leave the Mother's Market & Kitchen property on Newport Boulevard.

She posted bail from Orange County Jail on Friday, but was not immediately available for comment.

Local medical marijuana advocates claim the arrest is part of a larger anti-marijuana agenda by the city, but officials claim that's not the case.

"The city is stuck in the middle," said city spokesman Bill Lobdell.

Police only responded after Tharp returned to the property and the store manager called police, Lobdell said.

Earlier this year, federal authorities raided several local dispensaries after City Attorney Tom Duarte requested help in shutting them down.

— Joseph Serna

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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