Hollywood could not write a more interesting script.
Chris Williams is a well-recognized face in the SoCal cannabis movement. As one of only a handful of black cannabis applicants in San Diego, he is a vocal advocate of equality, social equity, diversity, inclusion, and safe access. Williams is also the founder of Candid Chronicle, the only cannabis-focused news publication in the country.
Last summer, Chris says he was invited to the home of Lemon Grove Councilman David Arambula (D) to discuss his cannabis dispensary applications. All was well before the night took a strange turn, landing Williams in the Emergency Room.
Williams has filed a lawsuit against the city of Lemon Grove and Councilman Arambula which includes claims that the councilman attacked Williams with a champagne bottle, then punched, kicked, and bit Williams.
“We are now in an active lawsuit, I’m confident in the facts and legal system. I sleep like a baby. At the appropriate time, the truth will come out- who was there, what was said, who knew what and when,” says Chris Williams.
Eerily, the meeting took place just a few days after a court ruled on a restraining order request against Arambula, by local San Diego attorney Dorinna Hirsch. Hirsch was seeking a permanent restraining order against Councilman Arambula. In her request, Hirsch claimed that Arambula tampered with legal documents, threatened her, and stole $8,500; she wrote, “He [Arambula] screamed that he would destroy my business and ‘mess me up’ if I crossed him.” A judge denied Hirsch’s request on July 6, 2017.
On July 15, 2017, Williams was treated at Alvarado Hospital Emergency Room for a broken rib, concussion, stitches for lacerations, and bites to his forearms after his visit to Arambula’s home. Days later, July 18, 2017, Williams was on the public agenda for a Lemon Grove City Council Meeting. Undeterred by a concussion, stitches, and broken rib, he was prepared to appeal for the zoning clearance of his 8260 Broadway medical marijuana dispensary application. The appeal hearing was pushed back, then ultimately denied.
Arambula has expressed different versions of the events. As reported by East County Magazine, the Councilman claimed “he did not call the Sheriff’s department, hoping Williams would “sleep it off, apologize.” According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Arambula did not notify authorities because he was “trying to protect the mayor and the city’s best interests.”
Williams is represented by well-known litigator Cory Briggs and is seeking unspecified damages for assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, plus court and legal expenses.
“At this point, to me, it is much bigger than the Arambula incident, there is a culture of deceit, abuse of power, and discrimination and it starts from the top in Lemon Grove. I can no longer sit back and shut up to protect the one dispensary we were approved for, there is a much bigger responsibility. If I can empower just one person out there to stand up for themselves and their dreams, then it will all be worth it” – Chris Williams
Williams is continuing his pursuit to establish medical marijuana dispensaries at two of his previously denied locations, in addition to the one he was approved for. Williams stated, “The locations meet the zoning requirements set by the voters. I’m not going anywhere. Just because you deserve something, doesn’t mean they’ll give it to you. Sometimes you have to stand up for what’s yours.”
By Cara Anderson