LOS ANGELES – Continuing his efforts against illegal cannabis businesses and the property owners that rent to them, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced today that his office has filed a civil complaint against a Chatsworth pot shop, the site where an 18 year-old customer was shot and killed, for allegedly operating illegally. Feuer named the property owners, the corporation behind the business, and its CEO in the complaint.
"At every turn, this case underscores the detrimental and even deadly effects allegedly illegal cannabis businesses can pose," said Feuer. "Our crackdown continues even in the middle of the COVID crisis. This case should serve as a warning to those operating illegally: you may be next. And it should be a warning for customers of unlicensed cannabis businesses as well—stay away. The risks, from a product that isn’t tested for safety, to a business operation that may be dangerous, are just too great."
In 2017, Clifford and Maureen Mickool were criminally charged for allegedly renting their Chatsworth property – Mickool Plaza at 9866 De Soto Avenue – to an illegal medical marijuana business called Cush Club. In 2019, they again leased the property to an illegal cannabis business called Super Bloom, managed by American Chronic Medicinals Inc., a California corporation led by CEO Anne Frank.
Last November, the Los Angeles Police Department notified both Super Bloom and Clifford Mickool that the unlicensed commercial cannabis activity was illegal and must stop. But Super Bloom allegedly continued to operate and the Mickools allegedly continued to allow Super Bloom to operate.
Two months later, 18-year old Joseph Waary of Chatsworth went to Super Bloom to buy cannabis. At the check-in window in the shop were two 19-year-old employees – alleged gang members – purportedly acting as security guards. They allegedly were smoking marijuana and playing with loaded handguns, even though their criminal histories prohibited them from possessing any gun. One of the guns fired, striking Joseph in the abdomen.
Instead of calling 911, employees allegedly cleaned up Joseph’s blood and continued selling cannabis while other employees piled Joseph into a car and then dumped him in the parking lot of West Hills Hospital. By the time police arrived, Joseph had passed away.
Even this did not stop Super Bloom from operating. Shortly after the shooting, the business allegedly relocated to an unincorporated part of LA County in Chatsworth and reopened as Blum Valley, where it continues operating today.
Commercial cannabis activity is extensively regulated and key to this regulation is requiring these businesses to obtain licenses from both the City of Los Angeles and the State of California. These regulations prohibit property owners from renting to unlicensed cannabis shops and allowing such commerce on their property. In fact, doing so constitutes a public nuisance.
The following are among the violations alleged in Feuer’s civil enforcement action:
Los Angeles Municipal Code section 104.15;
Los Angeles Municipal Code section 12.21;
California Public Nuisance Law, Civil Code section 3479;
Health and Safety Code section 11570; and
Unfair Competition Law, Business and Professions Code section 17200.
The lawsuit seeks to enjoin Clifford and Maureen Mickool, American Chronic Medicinals, Inc., and Anne Frank from engaging in any unlicensed commercial cannabis activity, in any capacity, and prohibit them from establishing, owning, operating or working for an unlicensed cannabis business. Further, it seeks to prohibit them from renting, leasing or otherwise allowing unlicensed commercial cannabis activity on any property in the City of Los Angeles. The lawsuit also seeks penalties, as well as restitution to anyone ripped off through the unfair competition alleged in the complaint.
Several Super Bloom employees are being prosecuted by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office as a result of their alleged roles in this incident.
Since May, 2018, the City Attorney’s Office has filed 558 cases involving 392 total locations and 6 delivery services with 2,032 defendants. The City Attorney’s Office has received verification of closure of 254 locations.
Additional information on cannabis regulations, including how to get licensed and submit a complaint about unlicensed commercial cannabis activity can be found at the LA Department of Cannabis Regulation website.