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Marijuana Entrepreneur Sues San Bernardino Over City Ordinance

Although marijuana continues to be decriminalized or legalized in states throughout the U.S., it's still a highly regulated business. And, this can lead to certain businesses feeling like certain laws and regulations are unfair. For example, Stephanie Smith, who owns Bubba Likes Tortillas, has filed a lawsuit against San Bernardino over an ordinance that addresses commercial marijuana businesses.

Bubba Likes Tortillas owns property that's used for marijuana businesses, and according to the lawsuit, a city ordinance that was approved by the San Bernardino City Council violates Prop. 64 and other California laws.

Regulating Marijuana in San Bernardino

In 2016, voters passed Measure O, which required the city to allow marijuana dispensaries in certain areas. As a result, three permits were awarded, but the validity of Measure O was challenged in court. Then, in December, city leaders passed a temporary stop on certain marijuana activities that weren't covered by Measure O. A few days later, a judge in San Bernardino County Superior Court tentatively ruled Measure O invalid for spot zoning, which singles out land for uses that benefit its owner at the expense of others. At the end of February, the judge made his final decision ruling that Measure O was invalid. Flesh Club owner, a location that was allowed to sell marijuana under the measure, filed an appeal.

Smith's Issue with the City Ordinance

Smith claims that the city ordinance bans "any person who has ever had anything to do with cannabis ... from entering the legal market," and creates a monopoly for certain types of marijuana licenses. The city ordinance allows 17 cannabis business licenses in this first year, and there are 19 different types of licenses under California law, which, according to the lawsuit, allows certain businesses to hold a monopoly. California law grants each city the authority to limit marijuana businesses as it sees fit.

Smith also claims that under the city ordinance, any marijuana-related business that was previously labeled as non-compliant with city law is disqualified from holding a commercial license and a renewal can be denied if a business owner is found to have operated his or her business in violation of any state or city laws. According to the lawsuit, the requirements violate due process because they don't "require a conviction, administrative hearing, or any other process other than that the City of San Bernardino has determined that the actions occurred."

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