Lawyer files own suit against Dana Point over pot ban

Written by Kandice Hawes
Thursday, 05 April 2012 21:46

Jeffrey Schwartz, who represented Beach Cities Collective in the marijuana dispensary’s successful appeal of a $2.4 million judgment awarded to the city, wants Dana Point to be forced under patients’ rights laws to lift its crackdown on medical-marijuana providers.

BY FRANK SHYONG / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTERhttp://www.ocregister.com/news/marijuana-347870-schwartz-point.html

An attorney representing two plaintiffs in marijuana-related lawsuits against Dana Point has filed his own case against the city.

Jeffrey Schwartz of San Clemente claims the city’s crackdown on marijuana dispensaries violates his right as a patient to control all decisions related to his health care

Schwartz, representing himself, wants Dana Point to be forced to repeal its citywide ban on marijuana dispensaries. He also is seeking declarations on whether medical marijuana is a form of health care covered by California’s Health Care Decisions Law of 2000 and whether bans on medical-marijuana collectives are constitutional.

“We have a fundamental right to control our medicine, and under California law, physician-recommended marijuana is medicine,” said Schwartz, who has a physician’s recommendation to use medical marijuana.

City Attorney Patrick Munoz could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

The suit could affect several Orange County cities that have raided and/or banned medical-marijuana dispensaries, including Lake Forest, Santa Ana and Costa Mesa. One of the case’s central arguments is that forcing medical-marijuana users to travel to Los Angeles County to obtain legal pot infringes on their rights as patients.

“Cities don’t have the right to intrude into a doctor/patient relationship and make it difficult for a patient to get their medicine because they don’t like that medicine,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz said this is one of the first cases in the state to seek to legalize medical-marijuana dispensaries using patients’ rights law. He said he might add more cities as defendants later. No hearings have been scheduled in the case.

Schwartz is a former client of Beach Cities Collective, one of three dispensaries Dana Point shut down in January 2011, citing violations of building codes and state law. At one time, Dana Point had six marijuana dispensaries, but none is currently operating.

Dana Point won a total of $7 million in court judgments against the three dispensaries it red-tagged – Beach Cities, The Point Alternative Care and Holistic Health. The city alleged they were operating illegally by selling marijuana for profit to people without prescriptions.

Schwartz represented Beach Cities in a successful appeal of a $2.4 million summary judgment awarded to Dana Point last year by an Orange County Superior Court judge. The judgment was reversed last week by the state 4th District Court of Appeal.

Schwartz also is representing Malinda Traudt, a disabled San Clemente resident who sued Dana Point in 2010, claiming its campaign to close Beach Cities Collective – where she obtained medical marijuana – infringed on her fundamental right to life. Traudt’s case has been dismissed by the California Supreme Court and two lower courts, and Schwartz has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Contact the writer: fshyong@ocregister.com or 949-492-5135

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