Sacto 9-1-1
May 25, 2010
Galt goes to court in attempt to close pot dispensary

By Bill Lindelof

Galt has filed for a temporary restraining order to close a medical marijuana dispensary that opened in the city last week.

The Galt City Council passed an ordinance last year prohibiting medical marijuana facilities. But last week an operation called the Galt Wellness Center set up shop at 520 Lincoln Way.

"They didn't notify the city until they actually opened up," said, said City Manager Jason Behrmann. "We gave them a copy of the ordinance and they didn't have much comment other then to say they were going to continue to operate and we would have to force them out."

On Tuesday the city filed in Sacramento Superior Court seeking a temporary restraining order asking that the court force the closure of the shop.

City officials said they hope to have a hearing on whether they will be granted the temporary restraining order by the end of the week.

Behrmann said the council enacted the local law for public safety. He cited robberies of stores and patrons at California cities that allow the dispensaries to operate as a big reason for the council to opt for a ban.

He said several cities have had similar bans and that other marijuana dispensaries have tested the other municipal ordinances.

"At this point the city ordinances have been upheld," said Behrmann.

However, Sacramento lawyer George Mull, speaking for the Galt Wellness Center, said the Galt law is unconstitutional.

"It is a broader ban than most," he said. "There are many cities that have banned storefront dispensaries. But this bans any two people getting together to exchange marijuana and grow. So a husband and wife who wish to grow for themselves cannot."

Mull said the Galt law goes against Proposition 215, the medical marijuana law passed by California voters in 1996.

"Galt is seeking injunctive relief to stop someone from being there who they feel is not in compliance with their zoning," Mull said. "But what they have done is not to regulate medical marijuana, but ban it."

He said the center is needed because there is no medical marijuana dispensary between Elk Grove and Stockton.

Mull said the Galt Wellness Center will fight the request for a temporary injunction. He said the center is a non-profit collective.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

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