Residents Riled Over Christmas Display of Pot-Smoking Santa | NBC Southern California

Residents Riled Over Christmas Display of Pot-Smoking Santa

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Residents in San Pedro got a medical marijuana dispensary to take down its pot-smoking Santa display. Hetty Chang reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. (Published Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014)

    A Southern California medical marijuana dispensary has agreed to remove its holiday decorations after it found itself at the center of a town controversy.

    The Harbor House of Dank in San Pedro hired an artist last week to paint Christmas decorations, including a pot-smoking Santa, on its store front.

    The paintings also depict a snowman holding a prescription pill bottle.

    Hundreds of people expressed their anger about the décor on the "Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Watch" page, a closed Facebook group which had 2,784 members as of Tuesday afternoon.

    On Facebook, one man posted "have some damn sense, kids walk by that place all the time." A woman posted "just couldn't understand why?"

    "What do you tell your kids about that?" asked Tony Apodaca, who posted the picture of the store front on Monday. By Tuesday afternoon, his post had more than 190 comments.

    "I was shocked when I drove by in the morning knowing there's a junior high school a block away," said Apodaca.

    The store manager told NBC4 he was not aware that so many people were angry about the paintings. Within a few hours of learning the news, he called the artist who painted the images to have him scrape off the paintings.

    By 4 p.m. Tuesday, the paintings had been removed.

    But the controversy may have opened up a whole new set of legal issues for the store, which  Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino's office says is illegal because it does not fall under the guidelines of Proposition D.

    Los Angeles voters passed the proposition in May, which allows for only 135 dispensaries that registered before a 2007 moratorium took hold, to stay in business.

    The Harbor House of Dank opened a few weeks ago, according to the store manager.

    The City Attorney's Office is working with LAPD to investigate the legality of hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries within the city of LA, including this one.

    As for the paintings, after hearing that the store manager had agreed to remove them, Apodaca commended the store and his fellow members of the Coastal San Pedro Facebook page.

    "It's the right  thing to do for the owner to take it down," he said.

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