Los Angeles mom accused of running multimillion-dollar pot grow house sues city

STUDIO CITY (CBSLA) — A Pacific Palisades woman who made the rounds on the internet late last year as the alleged mastermind behind a multimillion-dollar Inland Empire marijuana growing operation is suing the city where the grow house was found.

Stephanie Smith, who describes herself as a real estate developer by way of Boston College and UCLA, was accused of running a weed “fortress” from three San Bernardino buildings.

In January, she said she was just the owner of the properties, insisting her tenants’ activities were legal under California law.

Now, she is suing the city of San Bernardino, claiming the city’s marijuana licensing ordinance adopted earlier this month “creates a monopoly for certain cannabis license types and bans ‘any person who has ever had anything to do with cannabis … from entering the legal market,'” The San Bernardino Sun reported.

Smith, a 46-year-old mother of five, said this violates California’s recently adopted recreational marijuana legalization law and others, the paper said.

Smith entered the limelight after a $67,000 electricity bill at the former Pacific Bell warehouse, as well as neighbors’ complaints, caught law enforcement’s attention. Eight people were arrested in connection to grow house operation in raids Smith said “inconvenienced” her and “devastated” her tenants.

At the time, her attorney released a statement which read, in part,

“As a professional real estate developer with several million square feet of commercial and industrial space throughout California, I provide the infrastructure for all types of industry to operate and prosper, including the cannabis industry. I am a well-known and recognized leader in large-scale cannabis real estate development and I am proud of the State of California’s position on cannabis.”

Police seized 35,000 marijuana plants totaling roughly 18,000 pounds during the raids.

Smith was never arrested or charged with a crime.

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