Both D.A. Candidates Say They Back Pot Shop Crackdowns

It’s being called the “Green Gorilla in the room.” plantjes.jpg

The issue of medical marijuana has become a contentious one this political season, and one that many candidates are hoping to shy away from.

However, it doesn’t appear medical marijuana dispensaries can expect much support from the two Los Angeles County District Attorney candidates, Jackie Lacey and Alan Jackson.

Our Los Angeles medical marijuana attorneys had been closely watching the debates as the pair sparred in recent weeks at a number of debates in preparation for the November election.

Both are vying to replace the current Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley.

Lacey is Cooley’s chief deputy, while Jackson is the assistant head deputy in the agency’s major crimes division. The two have traded barbs, with Lacey saying her opponent is naive, while Jackson alleging his opponent is a bureaucrat who is out-of-touch.

In discussing the issue of medical marijuana, both candidates made no bones about it: Even if the City of Los Angeles decided to drop the currently-suspended “soft ban” on marijuana dispensaries, both candidates said they would continue to prosecute clinics.

This is important to note because while we’ve heard a lot about federal prosecutors cracking down on providers of medical marijuana, we have not heard as much with regard to local prosecutors.

The question was raised by an L.A. Weekly reporter, who moderated the debate. The candidates were asked whether they would continue to prosecute the owners of medical marijuana dispensaries, even if city voters repeal pot shop bans.

Both answered in the affirmative.

Lacey chimed in that over-the-counter sales of marijuana for money are illegal. Jackson, meanwhile, contended that “Those folks are simple drug dealers.”

It’s unfortunate that the only candidate options we have are both negative on this issue.

It’s in sharp contrast to the recent headlines made by the Butte County District Attorney, who effectively halted an ordinance there that would have prohibited outdoor cultivation of marijuana. Officials there had said that such venues were dangerous and created fire hazards. The District Attorney responded that while he was sympathetic to the efforts of county leaders, the measure was, in fact, unconstitutional under state law.

If history is any indication, the D.A. candidates may want to consider their position. Consider the following:

  • In 2008, Massachusetts voters passed a measure to decriminalize marijuana and Michigan adopted the legalization of medicinal marijuana. Both got more votes than Barack Obama.
  • In 2010, California voters handed victory to pro-pot laws Kamela Harris, over L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley, who staunchly opposed them.
  • Earlier this year, an eight-term Democratic congressman suffered a landslide defeat – by a younger, inexperienced and pro-marijuana candidate;
  • In May 2012, Oregon Democrats were given the option of two qualified state attorney candidates. Their only real difference? The stand on medical marijuana. guess who won.

Mainstream voters are increasingly recognizing the nuances of this issue. Candidates would be wise to heed their voices.

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

Additional Resources:
District attorney candidates air views in debates, Sept. 23, 2012, By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times
More Blog Entries:
Case Dismissed: Fighting Under-21 Marijuana Citations, Sept. 17, 2012, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyers’ Blog