Some California municipalities have figured out one way to run illegal medical marijuana dispensaries out of town – shut off their electricity, water and other utilities they need to survive.
According to a report from the Pasadena Star-News, the city of Pasadena is planning to disconnect the utilities of those businesses that continue to violate the citywide ban on medical marijuana sales. The “lights out” ordinance, which has been well received by the City Council and is expected to pass, could take effect as early as next month.
Officials say they have been forced to play hardball with these operations because they have refused to comply with the city code.
Although the sale of medical marijuana is completely legal in the State of California, Pasadena wants no part of it. But rather than making it a criminal matter, the city simply leaned on its zoning code to put the kibosh on dispensaries. However, the threat of fines and lengthy court battles has not been a deterrent for more than a dozen companies still slinging weed on a daily basis.
“We’ve felt that our hands are tied in shutting down these illegal businesses,” said Councilwoman Margaret McAustin.
The city will not just shut off the utilities being used by these operations as soon as it is legal to do so. The Star-News says officials must adhere to a specific process before they have the power to pull the final switch. So, if the ordinance passes, it is conceivable that Pasadena’s medical marijuana businesses would continue to have the full use of their utilities until sometime around September or October.
Furthermore, the city is somewhat restricted in the number of dispensaries it can force out. The ordinance will only allow them to target operations that are running on their own meter. So if a dispensary shares one with a donut shop, they would be safe. At least until they figure out a way around it.
There are about six medical marijuana dispensaries on their own meter, according to the report.
Of course, members of the cannabis community are greatly displeased with the city’s decision to try and run them out.
“We operate a responsible business, have an amicable relationship with all of our neighbors, including the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, which is our next door neighbor,” said Shaun Szameit, president of the Golden State Collective. “We provide good jobs and safe access to patients who need medicine. This punitive action threatens the viability of my business and could severely impact my employees and patients.”