A medical marijuana collective has filed suit against the city of Berkeley, California, alleging discrimination by local officials.
The lawsuit stems from a dispute between 40 Acres Medical Marijuana Growers Collective and the city’s Medical Cannabis Commission, according to the Daily Californian.
The collective has been order to shut down twice, as the city has ruled that it is illegal and is violating zoning laws. After the first notice, 40 Acres closed and then opened up elsewhere.
The city ordered it to shut down the new location, and the collective sued as a result.
40 Acres – which was founded in 2009 – is arguing that the city has allowed the three licensed dispensaries in the city to run an oligopoly on the MMJ market.
Chris Smith, co-founder of the collective, believes the dispensaries – Berkeley Patients Group, Cannabis Buyers Club of Berkeley, and Berkeley Patients Care Collective – are overcharging customers and taking advantage of the lack of competition.
In 2010, the city passed regulations that bar collectives (but not dispensaries) from operating in nonresidential areas, according to the Daily Californian.
40 Acres sued the city for similar reasons in 2013, but the case was dismissed.
The city has decided to award a fourth dispensary license, and 11 companies are vying for the permit. Entrepreneurs behind the companies include the former managers of a dispensary in Oakland, the owner of a music shop, and one of the city’s cannabis commissioners, according to Berkeleyside.com.