In California cannabis news: A woman accused of running a cannabis empire sues California city for creating cannabis monopolies. Months after the police shut down and raided her grow house that allegedly made millions per month, Stephanie Smith asserts that San Bernardino’s new marijuana licensing ordinance is unfair to certain cannabis businesses.
The Massive Grow House
Last December, Stephanie Smith became famous for her ‘weed fortress‘ in San Bernadino. After locals complained to police and authorities discovered that a ‘derelict’ warehouse was paying $67,000 per month for electricity, the police began an investigation.
What the police found was a massive grow facility. Someone had installed a twelve-foot fence, concrete walls, a high tech surveillance system and fortified doors.
Not only that, but the police seized 35,000 marijuana plants, which amounts to 18,000 pounds. San Bernadino police officer Mike Madden told CBS News, “In my 26 years, it was the biggest grow that I’ve ever seen.”
Authorities Have Not Charged Smith
Despite her connection to the grow house, Stephanie Smith has not charged with a crime. The mother of five has positioned herself as a real estate developer, rather than a cannabis grower. Smith claims that she rents the space to tenants who grow commercial cannabis.
Her lawyer said, on her behalf: “I am a well-known and recognized leader in large-scale cannabis real estate development and I am proud of the State of California’s position on cannabis.”
Though Smith hasn’t faced any charges, eight grow house employees were initially arrested.
Smith Is Suing San Bernardino
A few months after the police raided these massive weed facilities, this woman accused of running a cannabis empire sues California city. This month, San Bernardino approved a regulation that only allows the city to issue 17 cannabis business licenses in the first year of legalization. It also prevents any marijuana businesses categorized as in conflict with authorities from qualifying for such a license. This violates California’s Prop. 64 according to Smith.
Smith explains that San Bernardino’s new regulation will prevent “any person who has ever had anything to do with cannabis … from entering the legal market,” thus creating monopolies.
Smith has allegedly operated her grow facility without any permits. Despite the lack of charges levied against her, she wouldn’t qualify for such a license from the city of San Bernardino. Authorities still perceive Smith as being in opposition to the law.
Other Cities in California Are Helping, Not Hindering, Those Convicted of Marijuana Possession
San Bernardino’s cannabis legislation is markedly different from Oakland and Los Angeles’ policies. These two cities are giving opportunities to those with cannabis convictions. San Bernardino, on the other hand, is preventing their involvement in legal weed business.
While this isn’t necessarily illegal, it continues the legacy of the war on drugs. By preventing those with weed convictions for operating legal establishments, San Bernardino is discriminating against minorities, who are much more likely to have been arrested for weed.
Are Smith’s Claims Valid?
Potentially. One of the tenets of Prop 64 is that you can get your record expunged for certain marijuana possession. Though San Bernardino has not charged Smith with anything, this new ordinance could potentially contradict Prop 64’s focus on ending discrimination against those caught with marijuana.
Final Hit: Woman Accused of Running A Cannabis Empire Sues California City
The alleged proprietor of San Bernardino’s weed empire is suing the city for their new cannabis business ordinance. This isn’t the first California lawsuit involving marijuana: The famed California cannabis church is suing the police.
Though the lawsuit’s outcome isn’t definite, it will certainly shed light on San Bernardino’s controversial marijuana laws, and make Stephanie Smith even more of a weed celebrity.