Cannabis Business Landlord Sues San Bernardino

By Jason Marcuz

A landlady in San Bernardino, California, has used the city because of its pot regulation ordinance. The woman, who claims to be California’s largest landlord for the pot industry wants the city compelled to overturn its marijuana ordinance as it essentially bars her from the industry. A lawsuit filed by Stephanie Smith of Bubba Likes Tortillas in San Bernardino County Superior Court claims that the city prevents her from leasing her properties to marijuana growers and other operators in the sector. She also claims that the new law could create monopolies.

In December last year, one of the fortified buildings she owns was raided, plants seized, and operations shut down. However, since she is not directly involved in pot growing, she was not arrested. This is according to her attorney, Ben Eilenberg. While marijuana continues to be legalized and decriminalized in many states, it remains a highly regulated sector and some businesses, wrongly or rightly, feel like some laws are unfair and biased against them. According to the lawsuit, the ordinance passed by the city violates the provisions of Proposition 64 and a couple of other relevant California laws.

Cannabis regulation in San Bernardino

California voters passed a law in 2016, Measure O, that demanded the city to permit the establishment of marijuana dispensaries at certain locations. Because of this, three permits were awarded. However, the new law passed by California residents was challenged in a court of law. In December of the same year, the city passed laws that barred anyone from legal marijuana business if in the past they had violated state or local laws pertaining to the marijuana industry or if they had withheld income reporting on it.

According to Stephanie, the new laws passed by the city could apply to tenants and even to companies such as hers since the businesses that were raided were all in the process of being licensed. The companies all received approval letters that allowed them to undertake marijuana business yet the new law renders them ineligible. In essence, anyone who ever had anything to do with cannabis in the past is indeed barred from the business for life. This, according to her, is illegal and goes against the wishes of the residents of California. It appears like the city of San Bernardino is trying to ensure that everyone who operated marijuana in the past is now confined to the black market.


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