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By Brian Hews
The proliferation of pot shops in the Los Angeles area is getting increased attention after the passage of Proposition 64, with some cities scrambling to establish dispensaries and commercial operations to reap the lucrative tax dollars from pot sales.
Count the tiny 3 square mile city of Huntington Park in on the “gold rush” of the 21st century.
And Edgar Cisneros, the Huntington Park City Manager who is also a Montebello Unified School District Board Member, is
leading the charge in a City that once banned pot shops.
Back in 2011, Huntington Park adopted an ordinance outlawing medical marijuana dispensaries. Despite that, many companies opened in the city without a business license and in violation of the ordinance.
In January 2015 the Council approved, on a 5-0 vote, an amended ordinance to flatly prohibit any type of marijuana sales or deliveries in the City either from a stationary site or a mobile unit.
The amended ordinance was easier to enforce because dispensary operators could not use the sale of marijuana to sick people as a defense.
At the time, Police Chief Jorge Cisneros said his department was working with the district attorney’s office and had closed a number of the dispensaries.
Then, in October 2015, Cisneros was hired as Huntington Park City Manager and the closings stopped.
After Cisneros was hired, he immediately began to hammer out a new ordinance that would allow three “marijuana cultivation and distribution” organizations in the city.
The City chose three groups by “blind number call” to be given the opportunity to cultivate and distribute marijuana in city limits. The three were chosen out of 31 groups that submitted applications.
Interestingly, none of the three chosen have any experience in pot sales, though one owner said “she smoked pot.”
The awarding of the licenses effectively made every other dispensary illegal in the City, but shockingly nether Cisneros, nor the City’s high powered law firm, Rutan and Tucker, have initiated action to close the existing dispensaries.
According to the website wheresweed.com there are twenty-four pot dispensary and delivery organizations in Huntington Park.
If the three awarded the opportunity to distribute marijuana were among the twenty-four, then twenty-one of the dispensaries should have been closed, beginning June of this year.
But Cisneros continues to disregard current City laws on pot dispensaries and delivery services.
Jeffrey Zinsmeister, Executive Vice President & Director of Government Relations for Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an organization dedicated to educating the public about the harms of marijuana legalization told HMG-CN, “Sadly, this appears to be just another chapter in how the black market for pot has actually proliferated under pot legalization laws. The same story is playing out all over the LA area. After all, an unlicensed pot shop is just an illegal drug dealer with a nicer-sounding name.”
Making Cisneros’ actions even more suspect is that Rutan and Tucker has not acted in helping the city close the illegal shops.
And Rutan and Tucker have experience in closing shops.
One of the attorneys who assists Huntington Park with legal matters, Patrick Munoz, led Dana Point’s legal efforts and obtained a judgment in excess of $7 million against various marijuana dispensaries that were illegally operating in the City.
A high level official at the Montebello Unified School District, who asked not to be identified, stated, “As a woman I feel that Board of Education Members should be held to the highest ethical and moral standards. People expect all board members to advocate for the teachers, the parents, and especially the children. I have talked to people about this issue and many in the MUSD community are very concerned. We are concerned about the current corruption, fraud, abuse of power, and scandals that have been exposed by HMG-CN. But we are also concerned about Cisneros. With his actions in Huntington Park, will the school district, led by Board Member Cisneros and his allies who support the sale of pot, allow the sale of pot in our local schools under the justification that it’s now legal and it will generate revenue for the district? Only time will tell. I only wish and hope parents and the community pay attention to how Cisneros and his allies’ policies are hurting the tax-payers and will eventually harm our children.”
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