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L.A. City Council tries again today to adopt a medical marijuana ordinance

After a hiatus of almost a month, the Los Angeles City Council returns today to the controversial issue of how to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, and city leaders hope they will finally be able to vote on their long-delayed ordinance.

The council stalled in December over restrictions on where pot stores can be located and decided to postpone debate until city planners completed a detailed analysis of several proposals. Maps drawn by planners show that placing strict limits on dispensaries' proximity to residences would eliminate most locations in the city.

Today's debate is likely to focus on whether the council should require dispensaries to be 500 feet or 1,000 feet from one another and so-called sensitive uses, including schools, parks, libraries, religious institutions, childcare facilities and youth centers.

Ed Reyes, the council member who has overseen the process of writing the ordinance, said he is willing to accept either approach. "I think it's going to be one of those cases where not everyone is going to be happy, but we have to move something along," he said.

Most of the other contentious issues have been resolved, though they could be revisited. The council's 15-page ordinance caps the number of dispensaries at 70, but allows shops that officially registered with the city and are still open in their original locations to remain in business. City officials estimate that there are at least 137 such dispensaries.

Los Angeles adopted a moratorium on new dispensaries in 2007 while the council drafted a permanent ordinance. But the city failed to enforce the ban and hundreds of dispensaries have opened -- and are still opening -- in the city, creating concerns in many neighborhoods.

In October, a local judge ruled that the moratorium was extended illegally and was invalid. That left Los Angeles with almost no control over its medical marijuana dispensaries.

For an ordinance to pass on first reading, it needs 12 votes in favor and no votes against. If the council falls short, which seems likely, it will have to vote again a week later.

Once the ordinance takes effect, the city can move to shut down renegade dispensaries, but it is likely to face legal challenges that could slow down the process.

-- John Hoeffel

Comments () | Archives (23)

Not only is medical cannabis a great way to make money but it helps thousands of sick people. I say build more. These medical centers are playing by the book.

I mean the people obviously want it, and it generates good revenue. Legalizing it would decrease crime, decrease jail inmates and everyone would be a lot more happier!

Im 17 and there is a plethoraof students at my high school that smoke pot on a regular basis. As hard as you try youll never stop it.. So just decriminalize it and let people smoke freely.

As for medical marijuana cards, they are about the easiest things to obtain, half of my smoking friends have one, all you have to do is go to a "doctor" and say that you cant sleep because of back pain and marijuana helps and theyll give you a card... its really that simple..

I saw many younger adults and healthy people enter my next door business to purchase medical marijuana, and the medical marijuana owner came to me and gave me the sheets of legally to sell medical marijuana in California they print from internet . I brought them to the City of Westminster and ask the City and they toll me that they have not issue any license for them to do that business in the City of Westminster . (I would like to know why?. I think medical marijuana business is not good for the City and for People to use it.

I think that medical marijuana is good because it helps calm u down and it should definetely be legalized and anyone that doesnt like it doesnt have to smoke it anyway so they can just deal with it like people do with alchohol and cigarettes

A couple of things:
1. There will be more legal consequences as people will drive under the influence thus more DUI deaths if pot is legal.

2. The tax money would be good; but why stop at pot? Legalize cocaine and heroin as well. May as well make the money and take the currency out of the gang's hands. People are going to do the drugs they want to do regardless, and we are going to have addicts whether the drug(s) are illegal or legal. May as well make them all legal and tax them.

3. How can the state legalize pot but want to virtually make tobacco cigarettes illegal? If we are going to legalize pot, we need to also lay off people who want to smoke tobacco cigs--what is fair is fair, and again more tax dollars.

Just my two-cents...

Its funny how we (citizens of CA) have passed this medical marijuana law and all of a sudden this year the 2 DA's all of a sudden want to re-write and interpret it in their ideology.

Its going to be done whether it is deemed legal or illegal so why not stop swimming up the river, go with the flow of the people and try to make life safer for everyone. I feel so much more safer obtaining my weed from a collective rather than go to 'the streets' where basically anything can happen. I know people from back in high school who went to pick up a 'O' from a stranger they were referred to; and they ended up meeting the guy in the park where he robbed both of them at gunpoint. Sounds real safe huh?

Anyways legalize it for the safety of citizens in CA. There really shouldn't be an issue over medical marijuana, it has been going strong since it was implemented and should be kept going that way. It helps out so many people with so many ailments, taking away their medicine is the real crime and injustice that I see in this state from corrupt politicians that are trying to implement their beliefs and views on everyone else. Let the will of the people decide.


Your number two eliminates your number one. People who want to smoke already do so even though it's illegal. Therefore, people are already driving under the influence of weed so the data we have on DUIs will be likely unchanged after marijuana is legalized. I am an avid smoker and medical marijuana patient. Also, I enjoy a drink from time to time but never drive while doing so. I can honestly say that, while pot does effect your driving, it's doesn't effect nearly as much as alcohol does.

yet the city will allow the much more dangerous and destructive forces of alcohol to be sold on every street corner?

100,000 people a year die of alcohol poising or liver disease due to alcohol(legal)
100,000 people a year die of lung cancer due to smoking cigarettes(legal)

in 10,000 years not one person has died from smoking marijuana?( illegal or legal..lets make up our minds already)

Im confused.

This is such a no-brainer: allow a certain number of these places, tax the stuff and let people fake being ill so they can get it. We lost this war a long time ago, and the only way to control the illegal drug trade is to control it. Hopefully, the tax revenues will offset the cost of doing so.

I find if interesting that they want to regulate the locations of dispensaries but they do not apply the same thinking to CVS or Walgreens. I am sure CVS and Walgreens carry and distribute harder drugs (morphine, Valium) than marijuana. Also in response to 'concerned's assertion that 1 it will increase DUI deaths. Really? Name 3 Pot DUI deaths in the last year. And their 2nd point comparing Marijuana to cocaine and heroin....the latter 2 are narcotics that are extremely addicitive and can kill with the 1st use. Pot doesn't do that to people.

Name one vehicular death related to smoking pot.

One huge argument is that pot will be close to schools. Children are more likely to be physically abused by an alcoholic father than to be hurt by someone smoking weed, so please force liquor stores to move 1000ft away from schools. Also children are more likely to die of diabetes than by someone smoking weed, so please move all soda machines at least 1000ft away from schools. Lastly, the number one threat to the safety of children is vehicular manslaughter, so please, no vehicles within 1000ft of a school.

Concerned writes:
"1. There will be more legal consequences as people will drive under the influence thus more DUI deaths if pot is legal."

Citation needed.

"2. The tax money would be good; but why stop at pot? Legalize cocaine and heroin as well. "

This is silly, and you're not making a serious argument. I'm for legalization of cannabis, and I'd still be ok with alcohol being strictly controlled. Alcohol is far more dangerous of a drug.

"3. How can the state legalize pot but want to virtually make tobacco cigarettes illegal? "

Cigarettes aren't illegal, there are only a few cities where smoking in public spaces isn't allowed. Nobody is arguing to make it legal to smoke cannabis in public. The only other action against cigarettes is taxes, and we're all in agreement that cannabis should be taxed similarly.

Joseph, how do you know if people are healthy by looking at them? Stop trying to judge and play Doctor. These people have written recommendations from licensed Physicians. The people of this state have voted it legal, get used to it.

Here is the thing. Marijuana doesn't kill you. The smoke will. I don't know if the same is true with cigarettes and tobacco. To another poster, you can't compare marijuana to heroin. Two completely different drugs that affect your life in 99% of cases completely different. It's like someone who does speed. A guy who smokes weed his whole life will never have the face of a speed freak. It messes with you. Not with weed. My whole point is this: with all the health benefits attributed to weed, if you smoke it out of a vaporizer, there is virtually no chance of "catching" cancer from it; no smoke, no cancer. Mankind has been smoking some form of marijuana for thousands of years. Don't believe me? Look it up. The Chinese were smoking it, the Indians, the other Indians, etc. You can't say that about any other newly created "hard" drug, such as heroin, E, coke, meth, etc.

Ahh Cali, good luck with everything, a new day and new life. Head down and heart open! budbook!

1) Pot is not going to be legal until congress changes the law. The supreme
court has ruled that congress can regulate it under the commerce clause,
which I believe is a terrible mistake. Sandra Day O'Connor thought it was
an abuse of that clause too.

2) Pot became illegal because it was in competition with wood pulp for paper
and W.R. Hearst convinced congress to outlaw it.

3) The reason pot is still not legal is that it can be grown by anyone,
anywhere, and thus less subject to easy taxation. If it was as hard as
tobacco, I believe it would have already been legalized.

4) A huge amount of drug money goes to Mexico from sales of pot.
Legalizing it would would cut off that revenue. I'm not sure if this would
lead to even more violence there as the violence there now comes in part
from the competition to sell America drugs.

5) Legalizing pot would reduce costs related to crime. Trials and jails.
It would also allow us to employ a number of people who have used the
drug illegally, but are otherwise decent law abiding people.

6) I have never seen someone become violent on pot. I wish I could say the
same for alcohol.

i was there!

What a mess. The majority of people realize Medical Marijuana is helpful to many patients. Even Cheech and Chong have grown older and frankly folks bones ache. Medical Marijuana is so much better than narcotics to easy pain. It is time that this State which is in a world of financial hurt faces the truth and legalize's this. Regulation fine the same regualtion as a Rite Aid. Will there be abuse of the system? Of course there will be but it is for the common good that Prop 215 was passed by voters. Just like any other business if the owners are not proving a safe and secure resourse then patients will go elsewhere and they will go out of business. We have bigger fish to fry in this town and this State.
Oh yeah, DUI's will not increase because those that DUI will DUI and those that don't won't. Simple problem solved.

this is another way that the city want some mula from the pot.

Then pharmacy's should be under the same distance limit with all of the junkies that pour in and out of those dope houses. Have you seen some of the low life's hanging around the counters waiting for their "meds" (Oxy's to Prozac) Look how many Walgreen's and CVS "dealers" that have popped up all over.

I'm 39 and when I pick up my medical cannabis all I see is depressing really. Extremely ill (usually at deaths door from cancer or the like) patients. Many need assistance and many use wheel chairs. Some need special delivery because they're sick at home, too old to drive or they're totally bed ridden.
I've known more people who are now dead than ever before in my life from meeting them around dispensary's in their last months of life. It's not a bunch of young kids, hippies, or pharmaceutical junkies! I'm usually the youngest customer at any dispensary I've joined. All you need to do to see it's not anything meant for criminality is to visit from afar a dispensary parking lot and see for yourself the ill and dying who frequent these places.

Lay off the dying and stop supporting big pharmaceutic lobbyist who are payed to keep the public fooled and brain dead/washed!!

"the city failed to failed to enforce the ban and hundreds of dispensaries have opened"
Nice spin to put on the story of how L.A. City Council allowed hundreds of dispensaries to open under "hardship" applications. Doesn't "failed to enforce" really mean "let open without a hearing" ?
Ed Reyes...the same guy who was in the news last year cuz he was just letting dispensaries open with no hardship hearing is now a regulation proponent ? Straddling that fence could give a guy blisters.
Show me the money. You know as soon as the city closes all of these legally operating, tax-paying, dispensaries, they will turn around and start bitching about the city's growing budget deficit. How many jobs will be lost in this effort ? How is any of this supposed to benefit the california state residents who need their medical marijuana ?
I am still waiting for a news story about the elevated crime rate involving dispensaries. If new dispensary crime in neighborhoods is an issue it should show up in the news, not just in complaints about medical marijuana laws.
Are there any law enforcement figureheads out there who can substanciate the ridiculous claims of dispensary related crime ? Any cops who can think for themselves AND have an opinion ?
No...I didn't think so. You know, for decades cops have been telling the populace that although they may not agree with a law, it is their job to enforce that law. Just a load of crap. Now we have police organizations lobbying against medical marijuana laws. What ? Just enforce the citizen voted law...leave questioning the law to the people.

I think that having the marijuana dispensaries a certain distance from each other would be helpful to eliminating the high concentration in certain cities. Another way we can downsize the number of people who use medical marijuana is to increase the prices. I believe that making marijuana legal would bring some benefits by taxing it. My only issue is that if it does become legal, the government or companies that would be in charge of provided marijuana will put substances that will make people addicted to it, just how they did with tobacco.


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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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