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L.A. City Council acts to curb marijuana dispensaries

Potgraphic Faced with the rapid expansion of medical marijuana dispensaries across Los Angeles, the City Council voted this afternoon to close a loophole in the moratorium that had inadvertently prevented city officials from taking legal steps to close those that have opened since the ban. 

The action, which comes months after city officials became aware of the glitch, means that the city attorney’s office will be able to file criminal or civil complaints against operators who fail to follow city orders to shut down. It will be at least a week before the council takes a final vote.

“We know that time is passing. We’ll close the loopholes, plug these floodgates,” said Councilman Ed Reyes, chairman of the committee that is developing an ordinance that will govern how the city controls the distribution of medical marijuana. “We’re taking very strong steps today.”

The action was proposed by Councilman Jose Huizar after he received complaints from residents of Eagle Rock, where numerous dispensaries have opened after the moratorium was approved in 2007. He said that that people were “putting up these fly-by-night operations knowing full well they could make a quick buck while they can operate under this loophole.”

The hearing drew a raucous crowd of neighborhood activists, who asked the council to support the measure to clamp down on dispensaries, and medical marijuana activists and patients, who urged the council not to hinder access to a drug that has been shown to effectively treat pain and other ailments.

The moratorium included a provision that allowed dispensaries to file hardship exemption applications asking the council for permission to operate. But the City Council has never acted on any of them. The city attorney’s office last year indicated that it would be difficult to take legal action to shut down any dispensary that had a request for an exemption pending before the City Council. The council’s action today will eliminate the hardship exemption.

It quickly became known in the medical marijuana community that an application for a hardship exemption effectively shielded new dispensaries from city action to close them. More than 500 applications for exemptions have been filed. The City Council plans to consider 14 this afternoon.

“We are at a pivotal point given the rash of establishments that have created a negative impact in our communities,” Reyes said, “so we are going to have to roll up our sleeves and take up a number of these hardship cases.”

--John Hoeffel at Los Angeles City Hall

 
Comments () | Archives (26)

Well, it's a good thing the city council is acting to stem the tide to drug abuse. Yea, that's what is going on here. Most people who visit these facilities are healthy individuals claiming bogus medical problems so they can get a prescription to get high or stoned. The lax oversight of these facilities makes that easy to do. To prove that point just look at how many of these facilities have open everywhere. Good on the city council for keeping another sensation inducing drug off the street!!

I was there this morning and the "raucus crowd" consisted of medical marijuana dispensary supporters. There was only one person who came in to speak against co-ops in his community of Eagle Rock. The other person who spoke against marijuana in general, was there for another reason and decided to chime in on the subject.

This kind of slanted reporting is helping to drive the City Council to hastily shut down co-ops without proper investigation into their practices. These co-ops have patient bases that cannot be absorbed by the few dispensaries that existed two years ago.


Mr. White,

"Good on the city council for keeping another sensation inducing drug off the street!!"

Coffee, tea, cigarettes, alcohol, etc are all sensation inducing drugs on the street. Get off your high horse, and try thinking for a change. Do you really believe the city council's doing anything to keep pot off the street?!

Healthy, unhealthy it doesn't matter. They are adults and should be able to make there own decision about what to put in there body. What is a comfortable place for YOU to draw the line on other peoples freedoms Mr. White.

All neighborhoods are asking is for the moratorium to be enforced until the city of L.A. can come up with a regulatory regime for medical marijuana. Most of us are not making moral judgements (like Michael White, above), and some of us wouldn't care if marijuana was completely legalized (and regulated and taxed, of course). I'm in the latter group, even though I am not a pot smoker.

Fortunately for the MMJ community the Michael White's of this world (see comment about) are slowing disappearing with the emergence of a more enlightened mindset.

...but the co-ops that just opened in the last few months are obviously in it for the wrong reason. I support the movement 100% but I also support some organization. I question the motive being these newly opened shops.

Bigotry against marijuana users is the result of decades of government propaganda. Use does not equal abuse.

Marijuana should be legal not only for medical patients but also for responsible adults who want to use it to relax as a safer and less fattening alternative to beer.

If you want marijuana to be legalized, taxed, and regulated for adults, YOU can make it happen. Tell your legislators to support California Assembly Bill 390. It's easy. Visit yes390.org

As a casual pot smoker, I know several people with marijuana perscriptions. NONE of them has a legitamate need. Pot heads are abusing the system, but that's what everyone intended all along.

This is an outrage to the Medical Cannabis community! We need to review and rule out the corrupt, thug like dispensaries. Keep co-ops and collectives that provide organic and healthy alternatives to pharmaceuticals . To completely stop new co-ops from being built is just flat out wrong. I want to know what the law is on Pharmacy zoning. Last time i checked there is a Pharmacy on almost every corner, do you mean to tell me that a Pharmacy can open up, but not a Medical Cannabis co-op??

Just legalize it!

Let's just have an honest debate about "medical" marijuana because any pot head can claim he's under stress and get a recommendation. The medicinal value of marijuana is a farce. Call it what it is - a social drug and be done with it. Legalize it and tax it but don't insult my intelligence and try and say that marijuana is medicine.

Just more evidence that prohibition doesn't work! And further, there are huge revenues being lost due to these archaic and highly immoral policies... most commonly referred to as the War On Drugs!

off the street? Hahahahahahahahaahahaha, marijuana can be found everywhere. You should welcome these safe havens of purchase instead of back alleys and crime infested homes. Prohibitionists are simply ignorant and scared!

I think Reyes should have to document these alleged negative impacts.

If he's going to accuse people of being bad citizens, then he should be required to present some proof.

MICHAEL WHITE:

"Yea, that's what is going on here. Most people who visit these facilities are healthy individuals claiming bogus medical problems so they can get a prescription to get high or stoned. "

You must be gifted with the ability to diagnose illness telepathically.

You should quit whatever job you have so you can use your gift to help the medical profession.

Just think how many expensive or inconvenient medical tests like X-rays and colonoscopies and blood tests could be avoided if you could just diagnose everyone's health using your telepathic powers.

we need the money you so called smart people, alcohol, cigarettes kill more people every day, wake up and smell your slack, and ask what have you got right! and look at the position the GREAT CITY OF LOS ANGELES is in, you are driving into a state of oblivion! get the money!

Get out and fight this California!!

When are people going to take responsibility for their drug addiction creating so much violence in places like Mexico?

Of course neighborhood activists are upset about these marijuana storefronts, because organized crime is connected to many of them. You want evidence? The California Police Chiefs Association just published a White Paper on Marijuana Dispensaries, which you can find online if you Google it. Here is what they say:

"Marijuana dispensaries are commonly large money-making enterprises that will sell marijuana to most anyone who produces a physician’s written recommendation for its medical use. These recommendations can be had by paying unscrupulous physicians a fee and claiming to have most any malady, even headaches. While the dispensaries will claim to receive only donations, no marijuana will change hands without an exchange of money. These operations have been tied to organized criminal gangs, foster large grow operations, and are often multi-million-dollar profit centers. Because they are repositories of valuable marijuana crops and large amounts of cash, several operators of dispensaries have been attacked and murdered by armed robbers both at their storefronts and homes, and such places have been regularly burglarized. Drug dealing, sales to minors, loitering, heavy vehicle and foot traffic in retail areas, increased noise, and robberies of customers just outside dispensaries are also common ancillary byproducts of their operations. To repel store invasions, firearms are often kept on hand inside dispensaries, and firearms are used to hold up their proprietors. These dispensaries are either linked to large marijuana grow operations or encourage home grows by buying marijuana to dispense. And, just as destructive fires and unhealthful mold in residential neighborhoods are often the result of large indoor home grows designed to supply dispensaries, money laundering also naturally results from dispensaries’ likely unlawful operations."

You want that in YOUR neighborhood?

What a load of nonsense! ONE MORE TIME, Government comes down on the wrong side of the marijuana issue. Does anybody even KNOW why this plant is illegal?!? Per the Centers for Disease Control, annual cigarette- and alcohol-induced deaths are in the hundreds of thousands. Marijuana-induced deaths? ZERO reported, with 2-3 believed to be the actual number!!! USE does NOT equal ABUSE! And how 'bout all those murderous, Mexican drug cartels that are growing and selling marijuana here in California?!? Curbing legal access only STRENGTHENS these people while denying much needed tax revenue to the State.This war on marijuana is born of IGNORANCE and STUPIDITY!

It's about time LA City Council. I fully support anyone with a true medical need, but unfortunately I know of too many cases where the person does not have a serious medical condition (or even any medical condition), but was able to obtain a license. I realized then why dispensaries and doctors who give licenses advertise in the concert and music section of the papers and not the health section.

Why are they still putting up this fight? Why don't they worry about the dangerous drugs instead of concentrating on the harmless ones? Oh that's right because it would take effort. They don't really want to clean up the streets, they just want it to look like they do.

Just Legalize It!!!

Better than buying it from Mexican cartels. This stuff is of higher quality and you know what's in it. Why can people get roaring drunk in bars, but can't get high? Because decades ago, hemp was catching up to the cotton industry and looked like it was going to surpass it. So the cotton industry fought back by painting hemp as the most destructive drug a human can be in contact with, and of course the US government was paid off by the giants of the cotton industry....nevermind it's a better material all around, grows faster, grows stronger, etc, etc. Look it up!

ZAR:
" Because they are repositories of valuable marijuana crops and large amounts of cash, several operators of dispensaries have been attacked and murdered by armed robbers both at their storefronts and homes, and such places have been regularly burglarized. Drug dealing, sales to minors, loitering, heavy vehicle and foot traffic in retail areas, increased noise, and robberies of customers just outside dispensaries are also common ancillary byproducts of their operations. To repel store invasions, firearms are often kept on hand inside dispensaries, and firearms are used to hold up their proprietors"

Know what other establishments have similar consequences on local neighborhoods? 7-11, Liquor Stores, BANKS, etc.

The cops incompetence or unwillingness in keeping the public safe is not an argument against legalization.

Also, since we all know that regardless of it's legal status, it's not going away. So, instead of crime happening in a concentrated location, it would return to the streets, happening all over the place.

Lot's of pot-smoker whining going on on this blog.

You're just all upset because this attempt at "legalizing" pot became the predictable disaster we all thought it would be.

"Medical Marijuana." Give me a break.

15 minutes after the door was opened under the guise of helping the poor terminally ill cancer patients, etc for "medicinal purposes"...all we really see is every loser out there trying to make a quick buck and make the streets of LA looks like Revolucion Blvd in Tijuana by opening a "Medicinal Facility and sending a handfull of parolees down to the Venice boardwalk to hawk everone that passed by.

"Hey...got any pains. Get your marijuana card here!" Nice City. Close em all.

 
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