Oakland trying to shut down marijuana dispensary

April 14, 2011 8:51:29 PM PDT
A medical marijuana dispensary right across the street from Oakland police headquarters could be shut down. But its location is not the issue; its recent sale is being challenged by City Hall.

The hearing was over before it began. Demetrius Shelton recused himself from hearing the matter because he once worked for the city attorney's office and the case pits the city against the operator of the Oakland Cannabis Institute.

Dona Frank is the current operator of the medical marijuana dispensary. She signed a contract and paid the current owners more than $1 million, but the city says she purposely avoided going through the process to get a permit.

"We're saying she knowingly and the people who sold her the transfer knowingly violated our Oakland municipal code," assistant to the city administrator Arturo Sanchez said. "And because of that she showed a character flaw that should make her ineligible to have one of these limited permits."

There are only four permits for medical marijuana dispensaries in Oakland. The city says any change of ownership has to be approved. But last year a superior court judge sided with Frank and suggested as her lawyer does, that Oakland's rules are confusing.

"They have a permit system in Oakland with a lot of unwritten rules and when someone wants to transfer the permit, it's very had to do because there are no written rules," Lisa Gygax said.

Thursday's hearing was ordered by the judge to determine if the permit would be approved. That decision is now on hold.

In the meantime, hundreds of patients continue to go to the Oakland Cannabis Institute, which, perhaps surprisingly, is right across the street from the police department. The mayor has no problem with the location.

"I actually think it's OK because it eliminates the criminal activity that other cities have," Mayor Jean Quan said.

The city has tried to get the landlord to evict the marijuana dispensary but that has not yet happened. A date for a new hearing has not been set.

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