Morning Report: Lawsuit Pits Legal Dispensaries Against the Black Market – Voice of San Diego


Club 64, an unlicensed marijuana dispensary in Spring Valley, which operated next to a liquor store. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Cannabis dispensary chain March & Ash is suing a long list of people and business entities the company claims is tied to San Diego’s black market weed trade. The lawsuit claims that the alleged black market actors are putting unfair pressure and cost onto San Diego’s legal pot businesses, writes contributor Jackie Bryant. 

Those named in the suit include disgraced former San Diego Sheriff’s Capt. Marco Garmo, the San Diego Reader, several East County unlicensed pot dispensaries and several other businesses tied to those dispensaries.  

All those entities tie together, March & Ash alleges, because they have essentially operated as a conspiracy to prop up the black market. 

Garmo, for instance, allowed unlicensed dispensaries to operate and even tipped one off about a raid during his time in the Sheriff’s Office, prosecutors have said. He was recently sentenced to two years in federal prison. 

The San Diego Reader, an alt-weekly newspaper, for its part, runs ads for unlicensed dispensaries, the lawsuit alleges. 

March & Ash also named several ATM operators, landlords and bootleg companies for their part in the black market network. 

The lawsuit is similar to a federal RICO case, only civil. 

“Civil suits that mimic federal RICO cases seek to include the umbrella of actors and entities that support the network’s activities. In the case of a civil suit, it makes them monetarily liable. The goal is to show that by supporting unlawful economic activity in any way, they are therefore on the hook for economic damages incurred,” writes Bryant. 

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