The Murrieta Police Department confirmed an investigation is underway into another medical marijuana dispensary that began operating recently in the city.
Diamond Star Remedies is serving about 40 medical marijuana patients in a nondescript building at 41449 Los Alamos Rd., Patch previously reported.
The city has a moratorium in place that puts dispensaries in violation of city law. In September 2012, the moratorium was extended for one year by a unanimous city council vote.
Dispensary owner John Szwec was served a copy of the moratorium Monday, but said that under state laws, he adamantly believes he has the right to operate.
Patch sought comment from the Murrieta Police Department as to whether it intended to take action in an effort to enforce the city moratorium. In an emailed response to Patch, Murrieta police Lt. Tony Conrad confirmed an investigation had begun into the location.
“Our investigation will include looking at building code violations, municipal code violations and fire inspector violations,” Conrad wrote. “During this investigation we will be working closely with the Murrieta City Attorney, the Riverside County District Attorney and the United States Attorney’s Office.”
Conrad said the Police Department has investigated and taken a stance on the “illegal commercial marijuana operations that are taking place in the city of Murrieta.”
“Murrieta Police Chief Mike Baray previously declared marijuana dispensaries a nuisance to the city and a safety concern for the citizens of Murrieta,” Conrad said.
“In addition to the moratorium and the possibility of the above listed code violations, individuals involved in commercial marijuana sales and distribution are subject to federal criminal and civil actions per the Controlled Substances Act,” he said.
The city is involved in litigation with two dispensaries that have since shut their doors. While the moratorium is in place, Murrieta city attorneys have said they are awaiting state Supreme Court rulings on whether cities have the authority to regulate medical marijuana operations.
Expecting a possible lawsuit, Szwec hired Orange County-based attorney Matthew Pappas, who has taken up several other cases involving municipal regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries.
“Cities are discriminating against people who can only be patients under state law. They are violating discrimination laws,” Pappas said. “They need to get past the discriminatory behavior.”
The use of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions is legal under California state law, he said, adding he believes the federal Controlled Substances Act was meant to curb recreational use of the otherwise illegal drug.
Pappas said the only members who will be served at Szwec’s Murrieta collective are those with valid doctor’s recommendations.
“Now if that doctor decides he is going to give a medical recommendation to someone who is not in need, that needs to go before the medical board,” Pappas said. “They need to go after the doctors and the people who are doing it fraudulently. Everybody that is using medical marijuana is not a pothead.”
Pappas speaks from experience.
His daughter nearly died when she was 19, he said, when she was assaulted at a party. She underwent emergency brain surgery and was in a coma, he said. She was prescribed several forms of medications but the side effects were too severe, he said, which led to a prescription for medical cannabis.
“I am planning on staying in this line of law until my daughter can access her medication the same way she would if it were prescribed and she could go to the pharmacy for it,” Pappas said.