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Pot-shop ban vote has activists on both sides pressing L.A. council

July 23, 2012 | 12:57 pm

A man leaves a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles on June 14.

Friends and foes of medical marijuana dispensaries squared off at Los Angeles City Hall on Monday on the eve of a major City Council vote to make pot shops illegal.

At a news conference in support of the ban, a priest, a drug counselor and a young mother with a baby carriage described the crime and nuisance that they say storefront dispensaries have wrought on neighborhoods around the city. “This is just a disaster,” said Jennifer Moran, who described walking with her baby through clouds of marijuana smoke near dispensaries in her east Hollywood neighborhood.

At the same time, in its largest show of force since the United Food and Commercial Workers set about unionizing dispensary workers this spring, dozens of union members and medical marijuana patients held a boisterous rally opposing the ban. Whether the union’s involvement in the issue will hold sway with lawmakers remains to be seen. It is supporting a counter proposal, sponsored by union-friendly Councilman Paul Koretz, that would grant 100 dispensaries limited immunity and include strict regulations about where they can operate.

The city’s multiple attempts to regulate pot shops against an ever-shifting legal landscape drew the ire of one patient, Michael Oliveri, who chided city lawmakers for treating the regulation of dispensaries “like a beach ball.”

“I’m not fighting to get high,” said Oliveri, an 84-pound 28-year-old with cerebral palsy. “I’m fighting to survive.”

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— Kate Linthicum at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: A man leaves a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles on June 14. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

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