Battle Continues Between Government Officials and Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Los Angeles

Medical marijuana was legalized by California fifteen years ago. Still, to this day, lawmakers are trying to regulate and tax the billion-dollar industry as medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles and elsewhere throughout the state continue to fight for survival.

Recently, lawmakers made a number of attempts to regulate the locations of these pot shops. They banned them from being located with residential neighborhoods and school zones and gave local officials the authority to bust in and shut them down. Proposals to reduce the penalties for illegal pot cultivation and to protect medical marijuana users from workplace discrimination were also rejected, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Our Los Angeles medical marijuana attorneys understand that the government is using every bit of its energy to regulate and ultimately shut down this industry. They’re regulating the locations of these stores, throwing unjust taxes at them and violently raiding their shops for minor code violations. It seems we’ve reached the point of no return in the battle of medical marijuana against the government. It is only with the proper knowledge and a tactical approach that medical marijuana can prevail in this battle.

“You have medical marijuana dispensaries in residential areas where you have children exposed to secondhand smoke from pot smoking,” said Sen. Louis Correa (D-Santa Ana). He has proposed legislation, SB 847, that would ban dispensaries within 600 feet of homes and apartments. It recently passed the state Senate.

City leaders, law enforcement and lawmakers continue to justify these “necessary” crackdowns saying that they’re needed because of the hundreds of newly-opened medical marijuana dispensaries that turned on their open-sign with little to no oversight. These recent shop openings, officials believe, are a direct result of a moratorium that was imposed in 2007. Now, shops across the state are suing cities that step up their enforcement efforts saying that they have no right to regulate an activity that was approved by voters.

“As usual, legislators feel like they’ve gotta get tough,” said Dale Gieringer, state coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “If there’s a problem, we have to pass more laws for people to break. It’s classic legislative syndrome.”

There are somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 dispensaries that are open for business across the state, according to Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group.

Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills) isn’t too thrilled about these statistics as he was reported saying that there are now “more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks.”

“The inadequacy of medical marijuana laws has created a Wild West lawlessness,” said Blumenfield.

Blumenfield recently proposed a bill, AB 1300, that would clarify the rights of a city to regulate dispensaries. It easily passed the Assembly and is waiting on an action in the Senate.

A separate bill, SB 676, that aims to allow farmers to grow industrial hemp, a non-psychoactive variety of marijuana was barely made it through. Senate. Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) proposed the law and had to reassure his lawmakers that the hemp was not a drug.

“Even with 80% of Californians supporting medical cannabis use, the Legislature traditionally has been very frightened by it, which is nonsensical to me,” Leno said.

The Los Angeles medical marijuana lawyers at the CANNABIS LAW GROUP are offering legal assistance to medical marijuana dispensaries and collectives throughout the Los Angeles area. Call 714-937-2050 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Raft of marijuana legislation highlights a murky regulatory climate, by Michael J. Mishak and Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
More Blog Entries:

New Bill to Hold Down Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Los Angeles, Marijuana Lawyer Blog, June 16, 2011

U.S. Attorneys to Close Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Nationwide, Marijuana Lawyer Blog, June 14, 2011

Raids Close Five Medical Marijuana Collectives in Fresno, Marijuana Lawyer Blog, June 12, 2011