ANTIOCH (KPIX 5) — A church in Antioch which offers cannabis as part of its healing rites has been issued a cease-and-desist letter by the city.
Oklevueha Native American Church (ONAC) of Antioch is being told to halt its cannabis operation because it violates the city’s cannabis ordinance which specifies which parts of the city cannabis sales are allowed.
The church owner, Stephen Roper, says his church may not practice like a typical church but claims it is a place of healing and not a dispensary.
“We do sell herbs and CBD oil,“ said Roper.
“I’ve never been to a church where a security guard stands outside and checks your ID to see if you can come inside,” said Antioch City Councilmember Lamar Thorpe.
ONAC of Antioch was served with a 10-day cease-and-desist notice by the city attorney to halt its cannabis distribution, said Thorpe.
“It’s in violation of our cannabis ordinance and they seem to be operating outside of the green zone and close to schools,“ Thorpe said. “We are going to pursue this to the extent of the law. We have to protect the interest of the residents of Antioch who have allowed cannabis and we have to protect businesses interests who are operating in a fair manner in which they have gone through a process to operate here legally.“
Roper said he believes this was all a misunderstanding, and the church has no current plans to end its cannabis distribution. “No, no – if our attorney tells us otherwise, we will. But until then, no, we do not.”
“I think the misunderstanding started when they didn’t bother to check in with City Hall to see how they could operate legally,” said Roper.
ONAC is based in Oakland and previously had a branch in San Jose, which was closed down in December 2017 for selling marijuana without a permit. Police raided two other establishments with the ONAC name in San Diego three months earlier.