Jan 072011

The medicinal marijuana dispensary that set up shop in Los Banos this past summer is gone.

In the past week, Hollister-based Purple Cross Rx removed its furniture and supplies from the suite it was renting at 225 N. Mercey Springs Road. City Attorney William Vaughn said it appears the eviction process may have concluded.

“I don’t know whether they reached a settlement. All I know is there were no other court proceedings that were calendared,” Vaughn said.

Purple Cross Rx came to Los Banos in July despite an ordinance that prohibits such businesses in city limits, Corey Pride reports in the Los Banos Enterprise.

The city’s first response to the dispensary was to fine the nonprofit’s volunteers multiple times each week for operating without a business license and violating the medical marijuana ban. However, in addition to those sanctions, the city threatened to fine Richard Scagliotti, the owner of the suite the dispensary is renting, $500 per day until Purple Cross Rx was evicted.

Scagliotti chose to avoid the fines by trying to meet the city’s request.

Police Chief Gary Brizzee, who wrote the ordinance banning medical marijuana, said if the business opens anywhere else in Los Banos his department will be tougher on those involved.

“We will be more aggressive with fining the property owner,” Brizzee said.

In the past, Purple Cross Rx has left one location in a city, only to show up in another area of town.

Scott McPhail opened Purple Cross Rx in Hollister in December 2009. Stephanie Atigh, Hollister’s city attorney, filed an injunction against Purple Cross Rx in April of 2010. Before the case could go much further, a note was found on the dispensary’s door saying it was moving to Los Banos. Hollister dropped its complaint before realizing McPhail had opened another facility near the city’s airport.

Despite McPhail saying in August that Los Banos had no right to ban something the state says is legal, Brizzee rejected the idea that his ordinance was the reason the dispensary arrived in town.

“I don’t assume that they only came to Los Banos because our ordinance prohibited it. They came here to make money,” Brizzee said.

Mayor Mike Villalta expressed satisfaction that the dispensary is no longer operating in Los Banos.

“It was an illegal business to begin with. It’s good that it’s closed down,” Villalta said.

McPhail did not return repeated phone calls requesting comment on this issue.

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