Back in August, Fresno, California city officials sued nine medical marijuana dispensaries, claiming that they violated a zoning ordinance that requires businesses to comply with both state and federal laws. Eight of the dispensaries shut down, but one dispensary, Medmar, decided to fight the ordinance. Despite court rulings by two judges that upheld the ordinance, Medmar owner Rick Morse has remained defiant (see link). He has served as his own attorney throughout his legal battle with the city of Fresno, including today when he went in front of Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald Franson.
Morse claimed once again that he has a constitutional right to stay in business. “Fresno Municipal Code as it exists was and is void, unconstitutional, vague, uncertain and ambiguous. You cannot change that.” said Morse. Morse admitted that he violated court orders no less than 5 times in recent months, at which point Fresno City Attorney Michael Flores motioned to have the dispensary owner jailed. The judge denied the motion. What the judge did do was impose a pending sentence of 25 days in jail if Mr. Morse doesn’t complete 100 hours of community service by May 14th.
Upon hearing the sentence, Rick Morse said “You might as well put me in jail now because I’m not going to follow the order of the court.” To which Judge Franson replied, “I’m not going to throw you in jail. You will do it yourself.” Morse had issued subpoenas for Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, as well as the city’s interim City Manager and other city employees. The judge did not grant the subpoenas, telling Morse that his legal arguments for the subpoenas were irrelevant to the issue before the court.
Judge Franson ordered police to not arrest Morse for selling medical marijuana out of his dispensary between now and May 14th, in order to give Morse time to comply with the community service requirements. After the court proceedings were over, Morse was back at his shop, going about business as usual. When asked about his community service, he said “What community service? What hearing?” He has already filed paper work with the California Supreme Court.