As Mission District landlords renting to a medical marijuana dispensary received a cease-and-desist letter, the owner of Medjool Restaurant and Lounge has joined a group applying to open a dispensary a block away.
The owners of the building housing the Shambhala Healing Center received cease-and-desist letters last month from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, Mission Loc@l learned on Friday. If the dispensary does not close, they risk property forfeiture, the letters warn.
Shambala’s owner said he was not sure if he would close.
The dispensary 208 Valencia Street Caregivers reportedly received a letter as well, but that information could not be independently confirmed. An employee there declined to comment.
Regardless, Medjool owner Gus Murad is involved in an effort to open a dispensary a block away from Shambhala, at 2520 Mission St., according to an application filed on Feb. 23. Medjool’s restaurant recently closed, but the rooftop bar remains open.
The dispensary would be called the Morado Collective.
Eduardo Morales and Mohamed Allali are named as Morado’s operators, but the $8,656 check to pay for the application is from Murad, according to documents obtained by Mission Loc@l.
Calls seeking comment this afternoon went unanswered. When Mission Loc@l called the number listed for the owner/operators, the voicemail recording said, “Gus Murad, please leave a name and number.”
The letter to Shambhala’s landlords states that the dispensary is operating in violation of a federal law, and could be subject to “enhanced penalties” because it is operating within “the prohibited distance” of Jose Coronado Playground, which is on 21st and Shotwell streets.
The letter also states that if the dispensary does not close within 45 days, the landlord could be subject to property forfeiture.
The San Francisco Planning Department examined the playground’s proximity when it approved the dispensary and, based on information from the Recreation and Park Department, determined that the playground clubhouse was vacant.
The dispensary’s operator, Al Shawa, said he was “in shock” that his dispensary was being targeted, because he obtained all the proper permits from the city just a year ago.
“I don’t know who wronged me, the city or the federal government,” he said, adding that he operates under the letter of the law.
The healing center has 10 full-time employees with full benefits, and they pay $20,000 in taxes every month, Shawa said.
We will update this story as we get more information.