Fresno Medical Marijuana Could Go Up In Smoke

August 14, 2009 9:18:29 AM PDT
City leaders in Fresno consider a medical marijuana dispensary -- a threat to public safety -- and Thursday -- they filed a lawsuit to shutdown the Tower District facility. Action News reporter John-Thomas Kobos shows us -- why neighboring businesses disagree with the city's action. Inside this discretely marked building on Olive in the Tower District medical marijuana is being dispensed to people with a prescription.

However Fresno deputy city attorney Charlotte Konczal said the store is violating a 2007 ordinance which is why she is trying to shut it down.

Konczal: "Every business has to comply with the zoning ordinances and the regulations for the city in order to operate a business and they're not doing that."

Med-Mar owner Rick Morse did not want to comment on the lawsuit but said he provides a valuable public service to many patients in Fresno..."With varying conditions from cancer, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis," said Morse.

Morse could not reveal how many patients frequent his store but he said without this dispensary most would have to travel far away.

Morse: "The theory was before that everybody should go to San Francisco and now that it's here I'm not all together sure why there's a problem with it."

Inside this nine page lawsuit the city says this marijuana dispensary is a nuisance and threat to public safety however several area businesses we spoke to including this martial arts studio said they haven't experienced any problems at all.

Martial arts instructor J.R. Correa: "People don't even know it's there. So only if you know that it's there do you know what they're doing."

Still some residents in Fresno agree the store should be shut down.

Markhan Kirsten: "One hundred years ago everybody used to use opium for anything that ails you. It's not an innocent drug."

The city attorney's office said Morse was warned in January that opening up would violate local laws, but Morse opened up anyway.

He even displays the city's letter welcoming his new business. On Tuesday the city hopes a judge will agree the dispensary is unsafe and should close.

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