A San Diego judge has slapped a local medical marijuana dispensary with a $1.8 million fine for violating zoning regulations, ranking as the largest penalty assessed against an MMJ operation in the city’s history.
In addition to the fine levied on SoCal Holistic Health Inc., the judge issued a permanent injunction against the dispensary and its president, Ryan Murphy, according to the Los Angeles Times. The injunction bans SoCal Holistic and Murphy from operating dispensaries in the city.
Chris Boudreau – a board member for the Alliance for Responsible Medicinal Access, an area cannabis business trade group – said that while such penalties try to send a message to dispensaries, this case probably won’t change the way they operate because of the lengthy permitting process to open them.
Last year, San Diego’s City Council authorized up to 36 dispensaries, with a maximum of four in each of the city’s nine council districts. Dispensaries are permitted only in commercial and industrial zones, according to land use regulations. They also require dispensaries be at 1,000 feet from from other dispensaries, schools, playgrounds, libraries, child-care facilities, youth centers, parks and churches.
So far three dispensaries have opened with the city’s blessing.
Before this case, the biggest penalty was against John Nobel, a landlord who leased properties to illegal dispensaries. In December 2014 he agreed to pay a $250,000 fine.