Operators, property owner fined for illegal pot

Posted at 5:15 PM, May 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-27 20:15:47-04

The owner of a property in Mt. Hope was fined $175,000 Friday for renting to operators of an illegal marijuana store, according to the San Diego City Attorney's Office.

Luis Eduardo Medrano allowed The Green Room to operate on his property at 4218 Market St. for 17 months despite a court ordering him to shut it down.

The two marijuana store owners who rented the property from Medrano were also ordered to each pay $600,000 in civil penalties. They were identified as North County Holistic, Inc. and Hakeen Dequan Garrett.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said property owners who lease to illegal dispensaries will continue to be held accountable.

"As we warned, we are going after property owners who profit from renting to these illegal operators," Goldsmith said. "I strongly urge property owners to obey the law."

The City Attorney's Office filed a complaint against the dispensary operators and landlord in April 2015. In May 2015, it obtained a temporary restraining order and in June 2015 a preliminary injunctive order enjoining Medrano from maintaining a dispensary on his property.

Another temporary restraining order was issued against the operators in September 2015 and a preliminary injunctive order was issued last November.

Despite these four court orders, the dispensary remained open until this week.

In issuing his order, Superior Court Judge Gregory Pollack noted that Medrano continued to collect rent knowing that his tenant was illegally selling marijuana.

In a declaration provided to the court, the Rev. James B. Harrison said the dispensary was next to a block of educational and church properties, and that he has observed its patrons engaging in conversation with young girls getting off school buses.

He also said he has observed young boys exchanging money with men who emerged from the dispensary.

Under the City's medical marijuana zoning ordinance, legal marijuana dispensaries cannot be located with 1,000 feet of schools or churches.

In a separate case, Maher Hanna, the operator of The Nugget House, an unpermitted dispensary located at 3717 University Ave. in City Heights that also remained open in defiance of a court order, was ordered to pay $55,000 in civil penalties by Superior Court Judge John Meyer.

Hanna was ordered to close the dispensary in July 2015, but kept its doors open until January 2016.