Biggest US mall operator seeks to block PA marijuana dispensary

The largest shopping mall operator in the United States is trying to stop a medical marijuana dispensary from opening next to one of its properties in Philadelphia.

Last March, PharmaCann – which operates MMJ businesses in Illinois and New York – bought a former Chi-Chi’s restaurant at the “periphery” of a mall dubbed Philadelphia Mills for $1.1 million with plans to open a dispensary there, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The dispensary would not be on mall property.

State regulators granted PharmaCann a permit to open on the site in June. The following month, city officials granted zoning approval for the company to run a dispensary there, according to the Inquirer.

But since September, Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group – a $59 billion company that owns Philadelphia Mills – has been waging a legal battle to block the effort. In March, Simon had passed up an opportunity to buy the former Chi-Chi’s site.

Simon claims that having a dispensary there would violate the deed, which prohibits both drugstores and illegal activity on the site.

PharmaCann lawyers argue that their dispensary is not a drugstore, and filed documents in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court so it could proceed with construction.

On Tuesday, Simon sought to move the case out of state court and into U.S. District Court, the paper said. PharmaCann lawyers want the case heard in state court.