After a lengthy court battle, a local medicinal marijuana dispensary has been ordered to shut down by Union City.
CHA Wellness Center, which opened in January at 34695 Alvarado-Niles Road, must cease operations next week after the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to revoke its business license.
According to city staff, the dispensary never had permission to open in the first place.
City documents indicate that a business license for the Caring Hands Association was approved on Jan. 13, 2011 in order to provide “holistic health care and relaxed products and services” and “packaged products for retail exchange.”
The business license request was made by sole incorporator and Monterey County resident Joe Williams, who in emails to city staff listed items such as vitamins, supplements, oils and “any other lawful herbal product” among the products his business would carry.
City staff said CHA was told it could not distribute medical marijuana and was surprised when CHA Wellness opened this year as a dispensary. The city quickly and .
The sale, use and distribution of marijuana is illegal under federal law, and city regulations require that all businesses in Union City be compliant with federal laws, a city attorney said.
CHA was asked to provide the city with evidence to support why the business license should not be revoked. The city didn’t find the evidence to be adequate and moved forward with revoking CHA’s license, according to a staff report.
An attorney representing CHA, however, said the action to revoke their license was unfair.
“If this were any other kind of business and someone made a mistake in their business license, there would be an opportunity in every situation I can think of to amend the business license,” said Derek Longstaff, who represents CHA.
Longstaff said the city’s action is not a matter of proper licensing procedures but an effort to rid the city of the dispensary.
“It’s about the political will of this Council and the municipal government,” he said.
According to Longstaff, CHA is now run by a collective. Williams is no longer affiliated with the dispensary. CHA’s board of directors inherited the license in good faith from Williams and believed its operations to be within legal bounds, he said.
Longstaff said revoking CHA’s license would be a disservice to the community. Since its opening, CHA has served 3,000 patients, with 100 patients coming in daily, according to the cannabis collective’s board of directors.
He asked the Council Tuesday to allow CHA to apply for a new business license and “disclose and participate in the process fully and appropriately.”
City attorney Ben Reyes, however, said that the appeal process “has been exhausted” and the Council’s decision would be final.
Despite the city’s decision, Longstaff said CHA will ask an Alameda County Superior Court judge to review the ruling.
Longstaff believes CHA to be within its legal rights because, though marijuana is outlawed federally, state law allows the use and sale of medicinal marijuana.
“The state allows medical marijuana to be regulated, not banned,” he said.