A controversial medical marijuana dispensary storefront operated for only seven months before being forced to close in Rancho Bernardo.
MediBloom Director Erik Rynko in the RB storefront. Photo by Elizabeth Marie Himchak
MediBloom, which opened on April 1 at 11665 Avena Place, Suite 106, closed in November after a stipulated agreement between the city attorney and the suite’s owners included a provision that the dispensary would be evicted by early December.
The dispensary quickly received opposition from its neighboring businesses, whose owners claimed it was a target for criminals.
Within days of opening, MediBloom was broken into, but only non-medicated candy and lunchmeat taken because its products were locked up. Less than two weeks later, two employees were robbed outside.
But crime was not MediBloom’s only problem. It opened shortly before the City Council passed a citywide ordinance in April that said legally allowed dispensaries must be within light industrial and commercial zones and at least 600 feet from residences, schools, playgrounds, libraries, child care facilities, youth facilities, parks and churches.
Cooperative operators had to obtain a conditional use permit, a procedure predicted to take two years and cost several thousand dollars.
If enforced, MediBloom would have had to relocate because it was within 100 feet of Webb Park. While its director, Erik Rynko, said he hoped his dispensary — one of 166 citywide at the time — could be grandfathered in, city officials made no such provision.
Despite the city’s short-lived ordinance, and state law allowing collectives to obtain and dispense medical marijuana, police said their existence was against federal law and dispensaries were operating illegally since the city did not issue them business permits.
Within its first month, police narcotics and code compliance officers visited to issue citations for unpermitted work and other violations.
The courts also quickly got involved, with victories for MediBloom and its opponents.
A judge sided with MediBloom when Bernardo Town Center Property Owners Association filed a civil lawsuit against the suite’s owners, claiming a Covenant, Conditions and Restrictions violation since the dispensary was not one of its “exclusive permissible uses,” some association members deemed it a public nuisance and that its existence could negatively impact nearby businesses.
In October, a Superior Court judge ruled state law allowing dispensaries did not preempt the city’s zoning laws forbidding medical marijuana dispensaries and could be shut down.
That cleared the way for the city attorney to enter stipulated agreements that in the MediBloom case, waived the $25,000 civil penalty for the suite’s owners — Kimber Investment Group, LLC; LDA Management Group, Inc.; and Zepplin Investment Professional, Inc. — if they agreed to pay $545.33 in investigative costs, evict MediBloom (a process the suite’s owners said they started months earlier), restored the premises to its last approved configuration, corrected all code violations and did not allow another medical dispensary at that site or any others they own in the city.
MediBloom’s lawyer said its operators were appealing the eviction and hoped to re-open.
News Hawk – 420 Warrior 420 MAGAZINE
Author: Elizabeth Marie Himchak
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