A preliminary injunction hearing concerning a suit against the city is scheduled for later in March

By Brian Whitehead | bwhitehead@scng.com | San Bernardino Sun
Published: March 8, 2019 at 3:12 pm | Updated: March 9, 2019 at 5:30 pm

A San Bernardino Superior Court judge lifted temporary restraining orders imposed last week against seven commercial cannabis businesses recently approved by San Bernardino city leaders.

On Friday, March 8, Judge David Cohn also set a hearing for 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 29, on the preliminary injunction requested by jilted applicant Washington LLC in its lawsuit against the city.

Headed by California’s self-proclaimed “cannabis landlord” Stephanie Smith, Washington LLC seeks to halt the licensing of commercial cannabis businesses it alleges were out of compliance with city law or the general plan when they applied for a permit.

Those companies are Organtix Orchards, AM-PM Management, Orange Show Cultivators, Nibble This LLC (one of its two locations in town), Blunt Brothers and Accessible Options. (Approved cultivation business 14 Four has subsequently been added to the lawsuit for submitting its application after the June 25, 2018, deadline.)

Last week, Judge Janet M. Frangie, hearing the case for Cohn, who was on vacation, temporarily halted the licensing process for the businesses mentioned in the suit.

Friday, after hearing attorneys for the city and the impacted companies dispute Washington LLC’s claim that awarding licenses to alleged illegal operators has caused irreparable harm to legal and shunned applicants alike, Cohn vacated the temporary restraining orders and scheduled the March 29 hearing.

“We’re disappointed, but we understand (Cohn’s ruling),” said attorney Ben Eilenberg, who is representing Washington LLC in the suit. “It’s an understandable decision, although we believe Judge Frangie had the better analysis.”

On Feb. 21, San Bernardino city leaders approved 16 commercial cannabis businesses, one fewer than city law allows.

While Daniel Shimell, an attorney representing the city in the case, explained in court Friday that the permitting process likely won’t be completed for at least two months, Eilenberg argued that by approving noncompliant businesses in the first place, the city neglected its procedures and locked up several licenses that could have otherwise gone to compliant operators, such as Washington LLC.

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