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Medical marijuana dispensary wins court order allowing it to stay open

September 3, 2010 |  5:31 pm

A medical marijuana dispensary that Los Angeles was seeking to shut down under its three-month-old ordinance has won a court order allowing it to stay open, the first ruling from a local judge to favor one of the hundreds of stores affected by the new law. 

On Thursday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mohr granted a temporary restraining order to allow DTPG to stay in business pending another hearing.

Alfred Garcia, who started the downtown collective, said DTPG opened before the city had medical marijuana laws and has complied with every requirement it has adopted. “We are very pleased with the initial ruling, and we hope to ultimately win the case,” he said in a statement.

The decision applies only to DTPG and is unlikely to change the situation for most of the hundreds of dispensaries the city has ordered to shut down.

DTPG was on Los Angeles' list of allowed dispensaries until the city recently eliminated it and four others, belatedly deciding it had failed to file the registration paperwork by Nov. 13, 2007. The city ejected DTPG because it did not provide an insurance policy number by the deadline even though it did provide documentation proving it had the required coverage.

Mohr, who is presiding over more than 30 lawsuits challenging the ordinance, concluded DTPG’s argument had merit. He set a hearing on an injunction for next month.

“Basically, the judge looked at the city and said, ‘This seems draconian,’ ” said Ariel Clark, one of the dispensary’s lawyers. “It really highlights the arbitrary and capricious nature of the city’s rules. They make these rules and they change them.”

Jane Usher, a special assistant city attorney, said her office was negotiating with the dispensary to reach a resolution. “We’re willing to accept the judge’s decision, limited to these unique facts,” she said. An agreement would lprobably allow DTPG to participate in the city’s process for becoming an approved dispensary under the new ordinance.

-- John Hoeffel