Pot collective operating on church property in City Heights - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Pot collective operating on church property in City Heights

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Grace Evangelical Methodist Church in City Heights Grace Evangelical Methodist Church in City Heights
Green Urban collective rented office space from Grace Church Green Urban collective rented office space from Grace Church

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A local medical marijuana dispensary will soon be shutting its doors after CBS News 8 received a tip that the collective was not only operating without a city permit, but was also renting office space on church property.

For the past three months, the Green Urban medical marijuana dispensary has been open for business at 3054 Fairmount Avenue in City Heights.

The property is owned by Grace Evangelical Methodist Church next door.

When a CBS News 8 producer knocked on the door of the Green Urban Association on Wednesday morning, a woman and a man were inside but declined to answer questions. Within minutes, a Green Urban sign on the office was taken down.

The collective's web site, greenurbancollective.com, advertises different strains of medical marijuana, chewable pot candy, even cannabis lemonade.

Later, our camera crew caught up with the church's pastor, James George, who agreed to speak on camera about his business relationship with the pot collective.

"It's not part of the Grace Church. It's a separate, annexed building, totally separate building," Pastor George said. "The city has issued them a permit, a valid permit for that building to operate a medical marijuana dispensary."

Actually, property records show both Grace Church and the Green Urban collective operate on the same parcel, owned by Grace Evangelical Methodist Church, Inc.

The city of San Diego told CBS News 8 that Green Urban has no permit to operate as a medical marijuana dispensary.

In fact, the city of San Diego has not issued any permits to medical marijuana collectives because there is no planning ordinance in place to regulate such businesses.

"I don't know what you'd be happier with," said Pastor George. "If you had a late-stage abortion clinic going in there?"

"God created this whole earth with all the seed-bearing plants and he looked upon it and said, ‘It's all good,'" said the pastor.

"If it alleviates the suffering; if you've ever seen anybody in late stage cancer; if that's a product that alleviates the suffering, we're all for that," he said.

At the international headquarters for Evangelical Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, a spokesperson told CBS News 8 that the organization had no prior knowledge that Pastor George was renting church space to a medical marijuana collective.

The spokesperson said the church leadership – which represents about 100 Evangelical Methodist churches worldwide – would investigate the situation with Grace Church in San Diego, but had no further comment.

The city of San Diego is considering adopting a draft medical marijuana ordinance, set to come before the City Council in March 2014. It would forbid marijuana dispensaries in residential areas and within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, child care facilities, libraries and churches.

Green Urban's current location at Grace Church is within 1,000 feet of both Monroe Clark Middle School and Hamilton Elementary School.

"We've supported the law," Pastor George said. "If code enforcement doesn't want them there, we'll terminate their services today and refund their money."

City code enforcement inspectors did, in fact, pay a visit to the church property late Wednesday afternoon.

A spokesperson told CBS News 8 the city will be issuing a Notice of Violation to both Grace Church and the Green Urban collective by Thursday afternoon.

After speaking with city code enforcement inspectors, Pastor James George emailed the owners of Green Urban collective to request that the company vacate church property and move out of the building by Friday.

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