A prospective medical marijuana dispensary owner in Collinsville said Thursday he’s considering legal action after a municipal code enforcement worker provided him a letter ordering him not to open his store next week.
Brad Peixotto received licenses from the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control in order to operate World of Weed Cannabis Dispensary. The store, in the 1100 block of West Main Street, is scheduled for a grand opening on Tuesday.
But Peixotto said a city code enforcement employee notified him on Wednesday that he needed to remove his sign from public view and could not open for business. A copy of the letter, which appeared on the store’s Facebook page, does not cite any ordinance or regulation the city believes Peixotto violated.
The sign at issue has an image of a cannabis plant leaf to the left of the full name of the business.
“I’m just a businessman trying to do business,” Peixotto said, adding that he wants to also have a store in Skiatook. “I’ve done my due diligence. I didn’t want this situation to be combative, but unfortunately it’s come to that. As of right now, the city is supposed to treat (medical marijuana businesses) like every other business.”
However, Collinsville City Attorney Ken Ray Underwood told the Tulsa World on Thursday that officials would welcome Peixotto’s business on Main Street as long as he submits the appropriate paperwork. He said records kept by the city show Peixotto hasn’t yet done so and attributed the dispute at least in part to a “lack and communication and lack of understanding” between parties.
A photo of a receipt on World of Weed’s Facebook page shows the store paid a $60 sign application fee to the Planning Department.
“As I understand it, he has not presented an application to the city to operate a dispensary within the municipality,” Underwood said, noting that the application Peixotto needs is different than those used for most other types of businesses. “And I don’t think he has been inspected. As I recall, he sent an application for a sign but that has not been reviewed by the city building inspector or code enforcement officer.”
The Collinsville City Commission passed an ordinance in October that states applicants shall pay $100 for a medical marijuana dispensary permit and $1,000 for an occupation and business license. Underwood said the city didn’t hear public comments from citizens at either of its readings of the proposed ordinance during past commission meetings. It took effect Nov. 15.
Ron Durbin, Peixotto’s attorney, took issue Thursday with the fee requirements in the ordinance, as well as the code enforcement letter Peixotto received because State Question 788 doesn’t grant express authority for municipalities to charge additional fees. He said it appears the city is simply refusing to make a decision on whether to approve his client’s application for his sign and that Peixotto gave the city at least three months notice of his plans to set up a dispensary.
“They’re required to fulfill their governmental duties of issuing permits,” Durbin said. “If Collinsville wants to try to shut them down, then we’ll seek emergency relief from the courts. Like we’ve done with other cities, we’d like to work with them. But if they show up with this cease-and-desist ‘Don’t open’ letter, if you can call it a letter, then this is what we’re left with.”
Collinsville commissioners also met Dec. 17 and had their first public reading of a proposed ordinance that would address zoning for medical marijuana businesses. A copy of the meeting minutes shows the group passed the item for future discussion, but Underwood said Peixotto’s business location would be in compliance with the proposed zoning code upon approval and inspection of his shop.
Peixotto, though, pointed to the outcome of a lawsuit against Broken Arrow over its ordinances as proof that Collinsville, should it face a lawsuit, would lose in court. In the Broken Arrow case, a Tulsa County judge ruled in favor of a local grower, whom Durbin also represents, and granted an injunction. That city is appealing the decision.
Peixotto said he intends to open for business on Tuesday and that city officials shouldn’t stand in the way of what Oklahomans voted for last June.
“People are sick and tired of corruption in their elected officials and that’s what this looks like,” he said of the situation.