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Medical marijuana trade group sues L.A. to stop ban on dispensaries

August 17, 2012 | 12:42 pm


After Los Angeles officials passed a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries last month, activists vowed to take legal action.

On Friday, they kept their promise, announcing a lawsuit to stop the city from implementing the ban.

In the lawsuit, a medical marijuana trade group called Patient Care Alliance alleges that the ban violates the constitutional right of freedom of assembly. The ordinance passed last month by the City Council outlaws the storefront sale of medical marijuana and says the drug may only be cultivated and shared by groups of three people or less.

Marc O'Hara, who heads the trade group, which works with more than 300 dispensaries in Los Angeles, called the ordinance "heartless" and said it denies patients their right to assemble and care for each other.

Special Asst. City Atty. Jane Usher said the city had not yet seen the lawsuit and had no comment.

The suit comes as other groups of medical marijuana activists are working to qualify a ballot measure to repeal the ban. The Greater Los Angeles Collectives Alliance and Americans for Safe Access have joined forces with a labor union of dispensary workers to put the issue to voters.

Some defiant dispensary owners have vowed to stay open despite the Sept. 6 deadline for the ban to go into effect, even as the city has begun notifying dispensary owners that they must shut down. In a letter sent out this week, city lawyers warned that those who don't comply face steep fines or jail time.


L.A. City Council bans medical marijuana dispensaries

Facing orders to close, L.A. pot shop owners vow to overturn ban

Feds escalate efforts to close medical marijuana shops in California

-- Kate Linthicum at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: A medical marijuana dispensary on South Robertson. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times