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L.A. Judge Shuts Down Farmers Market

Los Angeles city officials won a restraining order in July to shut down a popular marijuana farmers market.

Marijuana Farmers MarketAn L.A. County Superior Court judge ruled July 15 that the cannabis farmers market in Boyle’s Heights must cease operations immediately. The ruling was a victory for City Attorney Mike Feuer, who said the market violated L.A.’s rules for medical marijuana dispensaries.

Feuer said the decision upholds the “spirit and the letter of Proposition D,” the ordinance passed by voters last year that imposes tight regulations on pot shops in the city.

“The bottom line is that we argued successfully that this so-called farmers market was an attempt to make an end-fun around the will of the people when they voted to put Proposition D in place,” he said. “The court saw through this subterfuge.”

Market’s Future Still to Be Decided

Actually, what the judge found was that Feuer had presented enough evidence to support a temporary restraining order – not a permanent injunction. In other words, the ruling isn’t final, and it doesn’t settle Feuer’s allegations, one way or the other.

That decision will be made at another hearing, where organizers of the California Heritage Market will also present evidence. They maintain the market followed the city’s rules.

The dispensary behind the market, West Coast Collective, is one of the 134 pot shops allowed to operate legitimately in L.A., market organizers pointed out.

The farmers market opened to long lines and booming business over the July 4 holiday weekend. It returned the next weekend, and city officials vowed to shut it down.

Is Farmers Market the Same Thing as a Dispensary?

Medical MarijuanaDavid Welch, who represents another dispensary involved in the market, said the event was no different from the dispensaries that are allowed by the city. It was located inside a closed warehouse and only patients were allowed.

And like any MMJ dispensary, the farmers market provided goods from a variety of vendors. The only difference may have been the prices, which were significantly less than those found at retail pot shops.

In fact, the city argued the arrangement violated state laws barring anti-competitive behavior.

City Attorney: Multiple Vendors Not Allowed

“Their arguments are basically a misunderstanding on how this business operates,” Welch said. The restraining order, he said, proves “you can’t actually open a marijuana dispensary” in L.A.

But Feuer contended city law doesn’t allow multiple vendors to sell weed directly in the same facility.

“The court was very clear: There could be no multiple vendors selling at this site, only bona fide employees,” he said. “That’s essentially what this business model was.”

The judge scheduled a hearing for Aug. 6 to decide whether he will issue a permanent injunction barring the market for good.

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