CALIFORNIA CITY - A Kern County judge dismissed a complaint on Feb.9 filed by cannabis company Grandma's Stash, LLC against California City, three former councilmembers and a local businessman.
Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe ruled in favor of the city and other parties after the city asked for the case to be dismissed.
Lampe's order cited that upon reviewing both sides of the case, "the court finds valid grounds for the motion."
Grandma's Stash filed its lawsuit against the city in September, months after its appeal to have a delivery-only permit reinstated was denied by the city council. The lawsuit also named then-councilmembers Ron Smith, William Smith and Don Parris as well as Rick Jones, owner of GreenStone Cannabis Dispensary.
The company's complaint alleged that the city wrongfully denied a permit renewal after it had been issued one in August 2019, months after the first delivery permits were granted by the city.
During the appeals process in June, city staff acknowledged the permit had been issued in error. Grandmas's Stash had ranked two spots below the 10 delivery-only permits granted in May 2019.
Grandma's Stash also alleged bribery and financial self-interest on the part of the three councilmembers. R. Smith, W. Smith and D. Parris all voted to deny the permit renewal in a 3-2 vote.
The lion's share of the allegation drew upon a Fair Political Practices Commission complaint filed by local resident Tami Johnson in June citing failure to report financial interests. The Grandma's Stash complaint also added on allegations that the councilmembers was scheming with Jones to artificially control the delivery-only options in California City.
All individual parties denied the allegations over the course of the lawsuit, with the council members noting they voted according their own guidelines.
The FPPC recently closed out the complaints filed against the three councilmembers, ruling that some mistakes were made and issued either warnings or a small fine for failure to properly report financial assets or stakes related to property they owned or had sold.
Lampe in his order noted that the city's request to dismiss the lawsuit — especially on part of the councilmembers — stems from councilmembers ability to vote as a protected activity.
Specifically, Lampe's order stated "the gravamen of Plaintiff’s claims pertain to the City’s decision to revoke and refuse renewal of Plaintiff’s license in conjunction with the City’s decision to stop the processing of all cannabis delivery permits." Lampe also cited Grandma's Stash's failure to exhaust all administrative remedies was grounds for granting dismissal.