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Newport Beach Sues 'Church Of The Holy Grail' Alleging It's Operating As 'Unlawful' Pot Dispensary

NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA) — The city of Newport Beach has filed suit against a local business, alleging that it was operating as an unlawful marijuana dispensary.

In court papers filed late June, the city indicated that it was seeking injunctions and civil penalties among other remedies against the Church of the Holy Grail ("Holy Grail") located at 2072 Southeast Bristol Street.

According to the suit, the Holy Grail has been operating as a facility to "unlawfully sell, serve, store, keep, or give away marijuana in violation of federal, state, and local law."

The city cited municipal code sections that prohibit marijuana dispensaries in the City, as well as zoning ordinances that require licensing.

The city further alleged that the defendants had been operating a business without a license or zoning approval in contravention of the municipal code as well as the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, which requires that marijuana-related activities comply with local laws.

Cristian L. Peirano, an attorney for the Holy Grail, said in a letter from February that the company's "use of marijuana is a lawful exercise of religion," according to the suit.

CBS Los Angeles reached out to Peirano Sunday for further comment, but has not yet heard back.

But as legal commentator and attorney Lou Shapiro points out, "the issue in the case is religion cannot be used to circumvent municipality laws."

"The government is not restricting people from exercising their religion," said Shapiro, who is not representing either side in the case. "Rather, they are saying you can practice religion, but it has to be within the confines of the law."

A hearing in this matter has been scheduled for later this month, court records show.

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