CITY HALL — The owner of a Santa Monica marijuana testing facility filed a lawsuit Tuesday to force City Hall to issue him a business license, which officials have thus far refused to do because the facility is not an approved use in the city.
Richard McDonald applied for a business license on Dec. 16 for Golden State Collective, a scientific laboratory that tests medical marijuana for levels of its active ingredient known as THC as well as contaminants like mold, bacteria and pesticides.
Growers and dispensaries use his services to make sure their product is free of unsafe chemicals, and also to tailor strains of marijuana to specific patients, depending on their needs.
Though the collective is not a dispensary and does not sell marijuana to patients, City Hall dragged its feet in issuing the license, and McDonald chose to open his facility without one in March, at which point he was informed that his business could be fined.
McDonald and his attorney, Roger Diamond, filed suit on March 19.
Diamond argued that the lab’s activities were fully within the limits of California law, which legalized marijuana for medical use in 1996, and in fact were fully different from a medical marijuana dispensary because the tests conducted on the pot destroyed the product completely.
“What harm is there to the City of Santa Monica in allowing a testing facility to operate under strict controls,” Diamond wrote in a letter to the City Council.
He also held that the location of the facility, in an old brick building near Olympic Boulevard and Centinela Avenue, was appropriate because the facility’s activities did not impact any of the other businesses around it.
In his missive, Diamond argued that business licenses provide no immunity to illegal activity and serve only as a method of garnering tax revenue. The denial of the business license, therefore, was done on invalid grounds, Diamond wrote.
Diamond has a record of successful lawsuits against the City of Santa Monica including a 1973 case that forced a change in the way local ballots were printed so as not to favor incumbents and a lawsuit that halted plans to destroy the Santa Monica Pier and replace it with a manmade island in Santa Monica Bay.
He was also the author of an initiative passed by local voters to further protect the pier.