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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on May 25th, 2016, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 17, Issue 12 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 17, Issue 12

Can't-abis: Santa Maria issues injunction against a 'dispensary' operating in the city

By DAVID MINSKY

On May 17, an injunction was filed in the Santa Barbara County Superior Court Cook Division against David Melena, a food truck owner and a medical marijuana events promoter who Santa Maria city officials believe was operating a dispensary within city limits. 


MEDICAL CANNABIS
An Instagram picture showing some of the goodies at the Central Coast Cup held in Santa Maria on April 17. The city filed a court injunction on May 17 prohibiting future events.
PHOTO COURTESY OF GROUNDCLOUDSINTHEAM INSTAGRAM PROFILE

Last month, on April 17, Melena sponsored the Central Coast Cup, essentially a social event for medical marijuana patients, featuring a judging contest of the Central Coast’s finest cannabis selection.

The event had a D.J. and featured local medical marijuana growers. There was also a medical doctor from Arroyo Grande who was performing onsite medical marijuana evaluations for a fee. It was held at the Filipino Community Center located at 2270 N. Preisker Lane. 

According to the injunction, the event was violating the city’s code that prohibits dispensaries. The city considered it a violation because tickets were sold ($35 per person) and the judges paid an extra $103.49, $154.74, or $203.99 to judge samples in the edibles, flowers, and concentrates divisions respectively, the injunction states. 

Judging by those numbers, the city estimates Melena made anywhere between $28,461 and $38,961.

Because the event was held at the Filipino Community Center, the injunction lists the venue and its president, Edgar Vea, as the defendants. 

Assistant City Attorney Kristine Mollenkopf said the injunction is the legal means to prevent Melena and the community center from holding such events in the future.

The city has had a prohibition on medical marijuana dispensaries since 2008. In December, the City Council strengthened its stance against dispensaries by passing an ordinance that also prohibited mobile dispensaries from operating within the city.

The recent injunction against Melena because of the Central Coast Cup is the first time, that Mollenkopf recalls, the city has taken action on what it considers a dispensary.

Several other past events sponsored by Melena that were cited in the injunction appeared to have gone off without a hitch, such as the Cupids and Cannabis matchmaking event that was held on Feb. 13, although Mollenkopf said the city wasn’t aware of such events until now. 

“Yes, he openly advertised the event,” Mollenkopf said of the Central Coast Cup, “but we don’t follow these types of events unless you’re monitoring the hashtag ‘805 cannabis community.’” 

The Sun spoke extensively to Melena, as well as Vea’s wife, Sonia, however neither wanted to go on the record for this story. 

Melena is not unknown in the community. He’s a Santa Maria native and operates an ice cream truck by the name of Mr. Nice Cream that the Sun profiled in 2012

In the profile, Melena told the Sun how some friends compared him to Big Worm from the movie Friday, a character who had an ice cream truck as a front for his weed business. 

“We get jokes here and there about ice cream not being the only thing we sell, but we’re a legit, licensed business,” Melena said in a previous interview. 

Tickets to the Central Coast Cup were openly promoted and sold on the Internet, although the location wasn’t disclosed until a ticket was purchased. Only medical marijuana cardholders were allowed in. The 94-page injunction includes screenshots of Instagram pictures taken at the event and posted online.

As it states in the court filing, things went awry when the Santa Maria Police Department received an anonymous phone call that “pounds of marijuana” were being sold at the event, according to the injunction.

Mollenkopf told the Sun that when police arrived, marijuana was being dispensed outside and it was clear that a medical marijuana event was being held. However, the police allowed it to finish. 

“There were too many people for our officers to reasonably manage,” Mollenkopf said. 

No one was arrested or cited, except for Melena. Mollenkopf said Melena was cited for a misdemeanor and fined $1,000. 

She added that the fine for a similar infraction is only $100, but Melena was cited the larger amount because he was also violating Santa Maria’s ordinance that required him to apply for permission to hold public events that charged a fee. 

Medical marijuana use has been legal in California since 1996 following the passage of voter-approved Proposition 215. 

“It doesn’t change the fact that it’s illegal,” Mollenkopf told the Sun.

California’s one of dozens of states that allows medical marijuana use, but it remains illegal federally. Despite its quasi-legality, medical marijuana is still controversial in some parts of the state. 

Along with the city’s ordinance barring mobile dispensaries, medical marijuana cardholders are prohibited from growing for personal use.

On Nov. 8, voters will get a chance to completely legalize the plant for recreational use with the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Initiative (#15-0103)

If passed, the law would allow adults 21 and older to possess, transport, and use up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational purposes as well as allow individuals to grow up to six plants. It’s not clear how the ballot measure would affect current city ordinances.  

Staff Writer David Minsky can be reached at dminsky@santamariasun.com.








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