Measure D Still Leaves Los Angeles Dispensary Policy Hazy

Now that Measure D has been passed by the Los Angeles electorate, what will this mean for the hundreds of dispensaries that are currently operational in the city?
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The answer, our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know, is not cut and dried.

While the language of the law limits the number of dispensaries to those that were operational in the city prior to September of 2007 (which is about 135), the question has become how the city intends to enforce these measures to shut the other dispensaries down – especially because no one is exactly sure how many of these facilities even exist.

City officials say it’s somewhere around 700, but others estimate it could potentially be double that number.

The Los Angeles Times characterized the task of bringing dispensaries into compliance with the law “monumental.” It will start with the city first identifying each and every dispensary within the municipality, and then taking individual action against each of those that had not opened doors prior to that 2007 failed moratorium.

City lawyers have said that they will wait for the results of the election to become certified, at which point they will begin updating the dispensary database and sending out letters notifying each of the new law.

We expect to file numerous challenges to this measure, as more dispensaries announce their intent to fight back.

City leaders said they fully expect that many of those dispensaries that are now in violation of the local ordinance may continue operating for some time, with many trying to fly under the radar.

Flying under the radar is one strategy. But it isn’t likely to last forever, and could end in serious fines and potentially criminal action, particularly if the federal government becomes involved again – as it has been prone to do. The better approach is to consult with an experienced marijuana dispensary attorney to determine what your most effective course of action might be. In some cases, it could be as simple as redefining your operation from a dispensary into a collective, as the latter weren’t regulated under the new ordinance. In other instances, we may fight back on the grounds that the ordinance violates the state’s Compassionate Use Act, which guaranteed medical marijuana patients a safe and accessible method of obtaining their medicine. Reducing the number of dispensaries so drastically is going to significantly diminish both of those aspects. You’re asking people who are ill to travel great distances to wait in exceedingly long lines for something that the law intended to be a quick and simple process.

There are already efforts underway to sue the city on the basis that the 2007 cut-off date was arbitrary and unfair.

Requirements under the new law include a mandate that all facilities should remain at least 600 feet away from parks, child care centers or schools. They must also pay a 6 percent tax on their gross income.

Dispensary operators with questions should contact our firm as soon as possible.

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

Additional Resources:
New L.A. law on medical marijuana shops faces hazy future, May 22, 2013, By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
More Blog Entries:
Los Angeles Marijuana Measure D Gets L.A. Times Endorsement, May 15, 2013, Los Angeles Cannabis Lawyer Blog