The city council of Gilroy, California, which had already once approved a lawsuit against a local marijuana dispensary in a closed session, has done so a second time, this time by a 4-3 vote in open session, reports Jonathan Partridge at the Gilroy Dispatch.
The closed session vote on Nov. 16 resulted in Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy on Dec. 15 turning down the city’s request for a preliminary injunction to close MediLeaf dispensary pending a trial. Judge Murphy in part based his action on accusations from the dispensary’s owners that the city had violated the Brown Act, which mandates open meetings.
Andy Faber, who represents the City of Gilroy in its suit against MediLeaf, claimed he still doesn’t believe the city violated public meeting laws. Faber said it would be helpful, though, for the city’s case if the council voted on the resolution in open sessionb.
“We have a judge saying that he’s concerned about it, so we’re concerned,” Faber said.
|Photo: City of Gilroy
|Gilroy Council Member Perry Woodward
Councilman Perry Woodward, who boycotted the closed session along with councilmen Peter Arellano and Craig Gartman because the three believed zoning and licensing matters should be discussed publicly, said he wanted a summary of what had been discussed in the closed session.
Woodward also asked how much money Berliner-Cohen, the city’s legal firm, planned on spending on the case. Gartman and Arellano joined Woodward in voting against the resolution, expressing concern about the cost of legal fees.
“We ought to be concerned about this,” Woodward said, referencing the city’s tight budget. “We’re closing down fire stations, for goodness’ sakes.”
Gartman expressed concern that MediLeaf had not received due process from the city. The dispensary wasn’t allowed to even apply for a conditional use permit.
The council voted 6-1, with Arellano dissenting, to vote on a outright dispensary ban at its Jan. 11 meeting. Arellano said after the meeting that his “no” vote was based on his belief that dispensaries should be allowed.
“I feel strongly that we should have medical marijuana available,” he said.
An ordinance that bans dispensaries wouldn’t help the city in its case against MediLeaf, but could bar other dispensaries from opening in the future.
“I don’t understand why the citizens of Gilroy are so upset and would like MediLeaf out of our community,” said local blogger Tobi Whaley
. “I would much rather have people going to get their marijuana legally from a local dispensary than from some gang bangers in Christmas Hill Park.”