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Palm Desert Medical Marijuana Dispensary To Close


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The owner of a medical marijuana dispensary that recently opened on Highway 111 despite a ban enacted by Palm Desert, said Monday would be his last day of business because of pressure from the city.

CannaHelp owner, Stacy Hochanadel, said he is shutting down the new location at 73625 Highway 111 -- with the hope of moving to Palm Springs -- where the city is working on an ordinance that would allow collectives and cooperatives.

"Palm Desert has threatened to serve me with another cease-and-desist order," said Hochanadel, 31.

City Attorney Dave Erwin recently told The Desert Sun that the city would likely issue a restraining order against Hochanadel, adding any action would likely be through the civil courts. Erwin could not be immediately reached today to comment.

Some businesses inside the Highway 111 business complex, including Kumon Learning Center, a math and reading tutoring center for children, complained about the dispensary, according to Hochanadel.

The center's manager did not want to comment, according to City News Service.

"It's just too hard to do business in Palm Desert," Hochanadel said, adding that he hoped to have a new location in Palm Springs within the next three months and that he would still deliver to his patients in the meantime.

Last Dec. 19, CannaHelp's El Paseo location was served with a cease-and- desist order by Palm Desert stemming from the alleged sale of marijuana to an undercover officer who did not have a prescription for the drug.

Hochanadel, 31, signed an agreement with the city before the order was issued in which he agreed to sell only to patients with proper identification cards issued by the state, according to prosecutors.

Under California law, marijuana can be sold only on a not-for-profit basis and on the recommendation of a physician. The sale and use of the drug for any purpose remains illegal under federal law.

Marijuana and financial records were seized at CannaHelp last December during a raid by Riverside County sheriff's personnel, who alleged the dispensary was a for-profit business, according to sheriff's investigator Manny Garcia.

After a warrant was issued for their arrests, Hochanadel and his two managers, James Campbell and John Bednar, all 31, surrendered at the Indio Jail last January.

The three are charged with marijuana possession, sales and transport.

After Hochanadel's Jan. 9 arraignment, his attorney at the time, James Warner, said the dispensary was nonprofit and that prosecutors had "no proof" against his client.

But last month, Judge Thomas N. Douglass granted a request by Hochanadel to remove Warner from the case and replace him with Palm Springs attorney Ulrich McNulty.

Attorney's for Hochanadel's co-defendants expressed concerns that Warner could be called as a witness in the case because he allegedly helped Hochanadel set up his business by providing legal advice.

"It's too early to tell who will be called," McNulty said last month. "First I need to review the discovery and police report."

A preliminary hearing in the case is set for Wednesday.

Hochanadel said Monday he thought the hearing would likely be continued again to give his new attorney more time to prepare.

McNulty could not be reached for comment.

News Mod: CoZmO - 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: KNBC.com (Burbank, CA)
Contact: NBC 4 KNBC | Los Angeles
Copyright: 2007 KNBC.com and KNBC
Website: Palm Desert Medical Marijuana Dispensary To Close
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