Judge says no to marijuana convention

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Thursday granted a temporary restraining order to block a two-day medicinal marijuana convention from operating this weekend in Glendale.

Two days before the scheduled Medical Cannabis Cup — a trade show organized by High Times magazine that was expected to draw up to 3,000 people each day — was set to open at the sound and film production studio in the 1200 block of South Glendale Avenue, officials said event organizers still hadn't pulled permits to host the event.

City Atty. Michael Garcia said the city was pleased with the judge's decision to grant the order.

“Not only would the event have violated multiple code provisions, but we were also concerned that the facility could not handle an event of this magnitude,” he said. “The potential that this event could have had significant public safety and traffic impacts on the surrounding neighborhood was very real.”

In court, Deputy City Atty. Yvette Neukian cited a host of concerns — including the fact that the studio was not zoned to host that type of event, the failure to pull any venue permits, a citywide ban on medical marijuana dispensaries and strict smoking regulations — as a need for the immediate injunction.

While the ban on dispensaries and restrictions on smoking were troublesome for the city, Judge Laura Matz said the “bigger concern” was lack of permits.

James Devine, an attorney representing the magazine and organizers, expressed concerns that the city was staking its position based solely on the nature of the event.

He claimed the city hasn't gone to such drastic measures in the past when other large crowd events have been held in the city, calling the move “selective enforcement.”

On Tuesday night, City Council members held an emergency closed session to halt organizers from hosting the event, citing municipal code violations.

Glendale Studios owner Steve Makhanian said this week that his venue was not going to allow the event to take place because of the city's concerns.

Organizers initially tried to put on the event at the Los Angeles Center Studios in the 1200 block of West 5th Street, where they held it last year, officials said. But they were unable to acquire a “one-night dance permit” and were forced to abandon their plans, according to a Los Angeles County Court complaint for the injunction.

Organizers turned their sights to Glendale, and decided to host the event at Glendale Studios.

City attorneys alleged in their complaint that the only explanation for why organizers did not apply for permits is that they wanted to “fly under the radar” and go ahead with the event “at all costs, whether it was legal or not.”

The two-day convention was to showcase local dispensaries, hydroponic businesses, marijuana paraphernalia and clothing companies.

Rappers The Game and Redman were scheduled to perform Saturday, which raised issues with city officials because they said the venue was not zoned for concerts, only for broadcasts and recording.

Organizers also intended to host panel discussions on marijuana laws, cultivation and medicinal marijuana culture.


Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.

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