Ontario Medical Marijuana Dispensary Shut Down By the City

A medical marijuana dispensary in the south end of the town was shut down Wednesday for violating the city's Municipal Code.

H.P.M.C., also known as Holistic Pain Management Center, has operated at 856 S. Mountain Ave. for two weeks without a business license.

An ordinance passed four years ago prohibits the operation of marijuana dispensaries in Ontario.

The dispensary closed its doors late Wednesday afternoon at the request of code enforcement officials, City Manager Chris Hughes said.

"We have a zero tolerance for businesses that operate illegally," Hughes said.

City and CanCare Collective officials, which operates the medical marijuana dispensary, will be in court this morning regarding an emergency temporary restraining order issued by the city that permanently shut down the facility.

"The state law supports the city with the ability to have our own zoning ordinance against marijuana dispensaries," Hughes said.

But operators of the dispensary see it differently.

"We feel the ordinance in the city of Ontario is unconstitutional, and I don't believe it complies with state laws," said Patrick Grigis, volunteer manager of the collective.

On Sept. 30, owners of the Ontario dispensary filed a lawsuit after the city denied their business license request. The lawsuit claims the city ordinance is in violation of state law and does not uphold the Constitution in regards to due process, Hughes said.

Attorneys for the city filed a cross complaint against the operator and landlord on Wednesday. In their suit, the city asks the courts to dismiss the case, Hughes said.

But Grigis said he does not understand why San Bernardino County Public Health Department continues to issue state medical marijuana cards for $180, despite local governments' issue with dispensaries.

Council members on Tuesday night directed staff members "to take any action necessary" to shut down the medical marijuana dispensary.

"We gave staff direction to close it down now," Mayor Paul Leon said. "We believe this is in violation of city ordinance, and the message is we are not going to tolerate it."

The council's decision was made after it was added to the meeting's agenda as an emergency closed session item, Leon said.

"We felt it was gregarious," he said. "These are not the kind of businesses we support."

This is the second medical marijuana dispensary shut down by the city. A previous facility closed a year ago.

Ontario resident Mona Butler said she had brought the issue to the attention of Leon and was pleased that action was taken.

At Tuesday's meeting, Butler and another resident voiced their concerns about the shopping center where the dispensary is located. She presented the council with a petition of more than 100 signatures from residents who opposed the dispensary.

For the past two weeks, Butler said she has noticed a group of young people hanging around the business.

"We don't want the dispensary in our neighborhood," Butler said.

Councilman Alan Wapner said he was appalled to learn there was a medical marijuana store operating in the city which blatantly disobeys city law.

"When businesses come in, and do so illegally, we tell city staff to go out there and arrest them," Wapner said.

- Article originally from Contra Costa Times.

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