Marijuana Dispensary In South Whittier To Close After County Wins Legal Effort

A Medical Marijuana dispensary operating illegally in unincorporated South Whittier will be forced to close immediately after Los Angeles County successfully won a preliminary injunction against the dispensary’s operators.

The Starlight 420 Center had been operating at 15640 Leffingwell Road for more than six months. The County sought to close the dispensary because of multiple code violations, including proximity to children’s play areas. The dispensary opened without obtaining or applying for a legally required business license or a conditional use permit. Additionally, the dispensary was operating 285 feet from a McDonald’s playground and 595 feet from a child care center. The County’s zoning ordinance for marijuana dispensaries was adopted in 2006 and prevents dispensaries from operating within 1000 feet of facilities for children.

The County began legal action against the dispensaries operators after receiving complaints from neighbors in July 2009. Complaints included comments about noxious odors because of poor ventilation and children having to pass by the dispensary in order to reach the playground next-door. Additionally, neighbors said they witnessed adults handing marijuana purchases to children waiting outside the dispensary.

Judge Ralph Dau of the Los Angeles Superior Court granted the County’s request for a preliminary injunction against the dispensaries operators. This injunction prohibits the owners and their employees from operating a marijuana dispensary or possessing, giving away, or selling marijuana at their location on Leffingwell.

Judge Dau also granted an extension on the prohibition in all of the County’s unincorporated areas, meaning the owners of the Starlight Center won’t be able to pick up and move into another unincorporated area without a proper license or permit. This injunction will remain in effect until a trial date. This ruling will shut the facility down once the plaintiffs are officially served.

This is a big victory for the County, said Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. This ruling is not about whether medical marijuana is right or wrong – the voters have already answered that question. What is most important is ensuring the safety of our children and our communities, and ensuring that properly-permitted dispensaries operate within the law. Closing this dispensary was a high priority and ensures we are keeping our neighborhoods safe.