Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

August 2, 2010
Galt moves to close marijuana dispensary after court ruling

The well-being of the Galt Wellness Center has been dealt a blow in court - and now the City of Galt is moving swiftly to shut down its lone marijuana dispensary as a "public nuisance."

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang issued a preliminary injunction, giving the city permission to close the establishment under an anti-dispensary ordinance passed in 2009.

Galt city attorney Steve Rudolph said the city expects to formally serve papers on the dispensary next week, ordering the pot shop to immediately close its doors.

"It's a pretty straight forward zoning issue," Rudolph said. "We have an ordinance (banning dispensaries) on the books and it wasn't being complied with."

The fate of the Galt Wellness Center, opened in May and has 500 to 600 registered medical marijuana users, could depend on a closely-watched case in Anaheim. A state appellate court is expect to rule this month on a lawsuit challenging a dispensary ban imposed by the Orange County city.

"If that decision holds that cities or counties cannot ban dispensaries, that will change the landscape dramatically," said George Mull, a Sacramento attorney representing the Galt Wellness Center.

If the court upholds the Anaheim ban, Mull said he may challenge the Galt closure on grounds that it violates the rights of medical users to collectively cultivate marijuana under Proposition 215, the state medical marijuana initiative approved in 1996.

"Even though the state makes it clear you can cultivate medical marijuana, the Galt law makes that illegal," Mull said.

Rudolph said the Galt ordinance reflects the city's right to regulate its land use and set restrictions against on anything from an auto salvage business to a marijuana dispensary.

"An auto dismantling business is a lawful business to be in, but you can't find a place to do that in every city," Rudolph said. "This is a similar determination: The city has determined it is not an appropriate land use for this city."

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