Medical marijuana dispensary in San Marcos closed
July 21, 2006
Ned Randolph, North County Times
A month after the city denied a request by Legal Ease Inc. to move its medical marijuana dispensary to Grand Avenue, the storefront on Rancho Santa Fe Road is locked and all that remains is a sign identifying the business.
The company's Web site says that the dispensary, the only one in North County until one opened in Solana Beach several weeks ago, is "closed until further notice."
The phone number is disconnected, and no one with the company could be reached for comment.
However, Legal Ease's attorney, Harry Friesen, said Friday that the company was still alive and that his client hasn't made any final decisions.
"A lot has occurred with the company, and I don't know what they're going to do yet," he said.
A note on the Legal Ease website, www.legalease.us, says that all three of the company's San Diego County locations have been closed until further notice.
"All measures are being taken to ensure this is only for a short while," it says. "Sorry for the inconvenience."
On July 6, federal agents and San Diego County Sheriff's Department deputies in San Marcos raided the Legal Ease shop as part of a sting targeting marijuana dispensaries across the county.
Officers seized all material containing marijuana's active ingredient, THC, said Sgt. Gary Floyd of the San Marcos Sheriff's Station.
"They didn't weigh it, but they took quite a bit of marijuana," said Floyd, who is supervisor of Street Narcotic and Gang Detail in San Marcos. "They seized candy bars with THC, ice cream with THC, and concentrated cannabis. There was quite a bit."
Floyd said that there was one person running the store at the time and a couple of customers.
Agents also took store records and computers, he said.
Last month, San Marcos officials denied a request by Legal Ease to move its operations from 323 Rancho Santa Fe Road to 815 Grand Ave., citing a half-dozen "law enforcement responses" associated with the business.
"It is clear that Legal Ease is attracting criminal behavior and that any remedial measures that Legal Ease may have incorporated into its operations have not alleviated or resolved this problem to any appreciable degree whatsoever," states the city's June 19 letter that denied the relocation.
Legal Ease received a business license in July 2005 from San Marcos to sell various candy and products laced with marijuana. The store is tucked into a small strip mail across from Alvin Dunn Elementary School. On Friday, a metal blind was locked to the ground over the window.
Legal Ease personnel could face criminal charges as a result of the July 6 sting, said Damon Mosler, an investigator with the district attorney's office.
The sting resulted in nine arrests countywide for the sale of marijuana or possession of marijuana for sale, but none of the arrests involved Legal Ease dispensaries.
"I'm sure there will be arrests at some point and time," Mosler said. "The U.S. attorney will be evaluating their case. They (Legal Ease) are the only ones that have not been charged. I'm assuming the feds will do something soon."
The Controlled Substances Act passed by Congress in 1970 made it illegal to manufacture, distribute, possess or use marijuana in the United States. But California voters in 1996 passed Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act that recognizes a potential medical benefit of marijuana and allows people to use marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.
Mosler, however, said the law allows only for the possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients or a patient's caregiver. The law does not allow the sale of marijuana, he said.
"It's not an issue with whether it's a medicine," he said. "The law does not permit open selling of marijuana even if it's medicine. I don't want people selling marijuana in my city."
Prior to the July 6 raid, there were 20 medical marijuana dispensaries and another dozen mobile dispensaries in San Diego County, said Mosler. He said about nine remain open, and predicted more raids on those dispensaries.
Contact staff writer Ned Randolph at (760) 761-4411 or firstname.lastname@example.org.