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LAPD's Chief Beck backs ban on medical marijuana dispensaries

July 24, 2012 | 12:26 pm

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck threw his support behind a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries Tuesday, criticizing most pot shops in the city as "'for-profit' businesses engaged in the sale of recreational marijuana to healthy young adults."

In a letter to the City Council, which is weighing one proposal to ban storefront sales of marijuana and another that would allow 100 businesses to remain open, Beck cited burglaries, armed robberies and murders at dispensaries.

He said that while it is difficult to draw a direct correlation between dispensaries and increased crime because many clinic patrons are reluctant to contact law enforcement, “There is no doubt that the combination of narcotics and large sums of money found at medical marijuana dispensaries present an increased risk.”

He said the city’s ability to regulate dispensaries has been hampered by an ever-changing legal landscape and said allowing even a limited number of dispensaries to remain open “will only add to the confusion.”

Council members are divided on the issue. Councilman Paul Koretz, who supports the proposal to grant immunity to 100 dispensaries, told his colleagues on Tuesday that he has ill friends who have been helped by the drug.

“I have friends today who are still alive because of medical marijuana,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important to me.”

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would not pick a side in Tuesday's medical marijuana debate. Instead, a spokeswoman issued a statement saying the mayor backs "a limit on dispensaries while preserving access for those with a verifiable medical need as prescribed by state law."

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-- Kate Linthicum at Los Angeles City Hall

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