Los Angeles City Orders Pot Shops to Close by Sept. 6

A letter has been sent by the L.A. City Attorney’s Office, ordering some 1,800 marijuana shops to close their doors by Sept. 6, 2012. medicalmarijuanajars.jpg

Our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know, however, that isn’t likely to be the end of the story. With at least one lawsuit pending, conflicting court rulings across the state and a ballot initiative likely to be posed to voters in November, this fight is far from over.

The letter cites Ordinance No. 182190 – the pot shop ban – and states that it repeals and replaces Article 5.1 of Chapter IV of the Los Angeles Muncipal Code, which previously had regulated marijuana collectives and dispensaries.

The language of the ban states that it is against the law to own, operate, work for, use, rent to or do business with a business for the purpose of cultivating or selling marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The letter further includes the stipulation that landlords and owners could be subject to prosecution, as well as collective operators, employees and patients.

The ordinance excludes individuals in groups of three or fewer who cultivate it for the purposes of providing medicinal marijuana to patients who have a legitimate prescription or their caregiver.

The ordinance officially took effect on June 6, though with this letter, the city is making clear that it will be enforced in the next several weeks.

Previously, the city had regulated and allowed dispensaries. However, those regulations were the subject of several dispensary lawsuits as well. As a result, a trial court tossed five of the provisions in the original ordinance, and therefore, the city felt it could not move forward with the implementation of that regulatory ordinance.

The city had faced additional legal battles from the other side, indicating that the city could not regulate medical marijuana because to do so was to act contrarily to federal laws, which view possession and sale of marijuana as a crime – regardless of the 1996 passage of state law allowing marijuana cultivation, sale and use for strictly-defined medical purposes.

The city had been in talks with a number of dispensaries about potentially exempting them from the ban, the attorney’s office wrote, but those efforts to reach a settlement agreement were ultimately unsuccessful.

The L.A. City Attorneys’ Office has estimated there are nearly 1,100 dispensaries in the city to date, but the letters went out to nearly 1,800 locations. Some of those may have been duplications.

The letter then offers the full text of the ordinance at http://contact.lacity.org/ord/mmo.pdf. The ordinance threatens that unless these organizations comply by the Sept. 6 deadline, they will face a fine of up to $2,500 a day and a misdemeanor charge that could lead to an additional fine of $1,000 and up to six months behind bars.

Still, a number of dispensary operation owners have vowed to defy the ordinance by remaining open.

Consult with an experienced Los Angeles marijuana lawyer before you decide your course of action.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:
Facing orders to close, L.A. pot shop owners vow to overturn ban, By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times

More Blog Entries:
Truth in Trials Act Would Protect Medical Marijuana Patients, Aug. 13, 2012, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog