- Editor's note: This story clarifies a previous version that incorrectly stated the nature of the City Council's vote. -
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - One of three medical marijuana dispensaries in South Lake Tahoe could be able to move around the corner following a decision by the City Council Tuesday.
By a 4-1 vote, the council directed staff to draft a resolution allowing City of Angels 2 Collective's proposed move from 989 Third Street to a vacant building at 2179 Lake Tahoe Boulevard.
The collective's owner, Gino DiMatteo, was being required to cease dispensing marijuana at the 3rd Street location by mid-July after the landlord of the building received a letter from federal prosecutors warning of possible civil or criminal action. DiMatteo is in escrow on the new location.
Under the city's medical marijuana regulations, any location change by one of the three medical marijuana dispensaries in South Lake Tahoe requires approval by the council.
Several people spoke in favor of allowing the dispensary to move, noting the number of people employed by the collective and DiMatteo's philanthropy.
Nearby property owner John Cefalu argued the collective would be detrimental to the character of the neighborhood.
Robert Woelfel, an attorney representing City of Angels, said DiMatteo has been "very diligent" in his compliance with state and local laws.
He said DiMatteo will not grow marijuana at the new site and will remove existing advertisements to ensure the collective is discrete as possible. The new site will also have less square footage and more parking, Woelfel added.
"Our community will benefit and our community has benefited from (DiMatteo's) presence," Woelfel said. The attorney disputed a contention by City Attorney Patrick Enright that South Lake Tahoe could face a reaction from federal prosecutors if the council approved the move.
The federal government does not have the authority to direct the City Council's actions, Woelfel said.
Enright recommended against allowing the dispensary to move, saying it could result in sanctions against the city by the federal government in a staff report.
Councilman Bruce Grego was the only council member to vote against allowing the move. He said approving the permit transfer would break a delicate balance the city is striking between California and federal regulations.
"In my mind that crosses the line and supporting that is a violation of federal law," Grego said.