San Diego Landlords Can Boot Pot Businesses From Property, Judge Says

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The federal push to close medical pot dispensaries in California by dialing up the pressure on landlords is working like a charm.

Numerous medical marijuana centers, such as North Valley Holistic Health in Butte County, have closed up shop in recent weeks after their landlords received warning letters from U.S. attorneys. The letters threaten to arrest and prosecute property owners who lease space to dispensaries, grow operations and other businesses directly involved with medical marijuana. It’s a key part of the Obama administration’s attempts to rein in California’s medical pot industry, which has burgeoned in a relatively unregulated environment.

The warnings have created a tricky situation in cities and states that allow the use and sale of marijuana, as the federal government’s stance conflicts with local laws.

In San Diego, however, there is no more confusion. A court ruling issued this week paves the way for landlords to evict medical marijuana businesses from their properties, a decision that could set a precedent for other cities in California.

Superior Court Judge Ronald Prager ruled that Kimber Investment Group has the right to break its contract with MediBloom dispensary and boot the MMC from its building, saying that local zoning regulations don’t specifically cover medical cannabis collectives. San Diego had taken a lenient view on the zoning issue until recently, when local official began a push to rid the city of dispensaries.

While the judge didn’t specifically tie his ruling to the federal government’s warning letters, they certainly played a role in the case. Kimber Investment Group reportedly received a warning letter several weeks ago, triggering its move to evict MediBloom.

In talking about the court decision, a city attorney also acknowledged the federal government’s crackdown, telling the L.A. Times that “building owners have been put on notice by the U.S. attorney that they must remove these illegal dispensaries or risk loss of their buildings under asset forfeiture.”