LA seeks to shut down Boyle Heights marijuana farmers market

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A marijuana farmers market that kicked off in Boyle Heights two weeks ago may prove to be short-lived.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer told KPCC he'll move to shut down the event on Tuesday by seeking a restraining order blocking its operation.

Feuer said the "so-called farmers market" violated Proposition D, the voter-approved ordinance that restricts the number of pot dispensaries allowed to operate in the city. He said the event also constitutes a nuisance to the residents of the neighborhood.

"It also fails, we allege, to comply with basic city land use laws," Feuer said. "And they couldn't get a permit if they tried. So for many reasons — from the violation of Prop D to the impact on the community to the failure to comply with city land use law — we allege that this isn't a use that should be allowed to continue and we're going to seek a court order to put a halt to it."

The three-day inaugural farmers market took place over July 4th weekend, bringing thousands to a warehouse in the 1500 block of Esperanza Street. Many were drawn to the promise of lower prices and direct-to-consumer sales.  It featured about 25 vendors of marijuana products and paraphernalia and drew a line of attendees that stretched for blocks. 

West Coast Collective, the East L.A. marijuana dispensary that organized the initial event, said he was "shocked and disappointed" with the city attorney's action. 

Attorney David Welch told KPCC the market allowed growers to sell directly to the collective's patients, which he said reduced the prices for their customers.

"It's clear that the voters wanted only 134 dispensaries to operate in the city," Welch said. "There's hundreds in the city today. Yet the city attorney is going to waste resources on one of the 134 that his own website [lists as being] allowed to operate." 

"Until the judge decides that this is an improper way of operating, my clients have no intent of ceasing" to operate the farmers market, he said.

The market was for medical marijuana prescription holders only, and organizers verified the ID cards of visitors before issuing wristbands for entry.  

This story has been updated.

With contributions from Eric Zassenhaus and Rob Strauss

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