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LONG BEACH, Calif., Feb. 3, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The following is a statement made by Pappas Law Group:
Currently, the City of Long Beach is being sued by dozens of medical marijuana patients for enforcing a city ordinance deemed illegal by a California appellate court. In the 2011 Pack v. Superior Court decision, Long Beach's controversial 5.87 marijuana law was invalidated by the Second District California Court of Appeal. The same trial judge in that case found, "the evidence seems to show that the city through its police have used...strong arm tactics to knock down doors of the collectives without a warrant and without exigent circumstances." The initial hearing in a myriad of cases grouped together that seek millions of dollars in damages from Long Beach will be held on March 6 in Los Angeles. One of the state court cases seeks damages as a class action on behalf of thousands of people attacked by the city over the last two years. Long Beach is also a defendant in multiple federal lawsuits alleging it used brutal attacks and raids to force closure of collectives. One of the federal cases alleges that search warrants were served and obtained improperly through judicial deception and that multiple raids were conducted without any warrants. Another case involves the attack of a collective worker caught on video in June, 2012.
On February 5th, the University of San Francisco's School of Law will host a public session of the state Supreme Court. At the hearing, the court will determine whether California cities can completely ban medical cannabis collectives. The results of the court's decision will have serious and long-lasting implications for Long Beach taxpayers. For over a year, Long Beach City Attorney Bob Shannon has insisted that the City's ban of collectives, enacted after controversial Chapter 5.87 was stricken by the appellate court, was absolutely necessary. Until it finally passed the ban ordinance on February 14, 2012 after it failed to do so during standing room only public meetings in December, 2011 and January, 2012, Shannon used PowerPoint presentations, numerous meetings with council members, and warnings that members might be breaking federal law to force passage of the ban. If Shannon was wrong about the ban, there will no doubt be a myriad of new lawsuits filed seeking damages for hundreds of raids and coercive actions taken against Long Beach property owners who lease space to patient collectives since the ban was passed.
Before it was passed, Shannon advised the City Council, telling members that banning all collectives was the only course of action that he could recommend. Only months before the ban was passed, Shannon asked in a petition he filed in the California Supreme Court whether California cities even have the legal authority to ban collectives. The consequence for the City Council's vote to outlaw all cannabis collectives rests in-part on whether the state's highest court determines such bans are legal. In August, 2012, a state trial court in Los Angeles found the City's ban law was preempted by state law and invalid. Since the ban was passed, numerous patients and volunteers have been jailed and hundreds of citations have been issued to the patients, collectives, and landlords. Liens have been placed on properties and landlord business licenses have been revoked.
During the February 5th hearing, the Supreme Court will hear arguments from attorneys representing the City of Riverside, California and a patient collective in that city that was ordered to shut-down under a ban law similar to the Long Beach ban. If the state's high court rules in favor of the Riverside patient collective, then Long Beach's city officials will have once again pursued an illegal policy. Given its first law, Chapter 5.87, was rebuked resulting in millions of taxpayer dollars being wasted on legal fees and costs, the controversial position taken by Shannon and supported by deputy city attorneys Michael Mais and J. Charles Parkin will place additional millions of taxpayer dollars at risk. One city official who asked to remain anonymous commented the cases could bankrupt the city.
Concern for potential taxpayer liability has been mounting statewide. Cities around the state have, like Long Beach, taken actions to shutter medical marijuana dispensaries. All of those cities are subject to lawsuits by patients similar to the suits filed against Long Beach.
CONTACT: Pappas Law Group
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