The Los Angeles planning commission is eager to get some regulation on the books with regard to medical marijuana, and have approved a move that would force most dispensaries in the city to close.
Our Los Angeles medical marijuana lawyers understand that the commission’s plan calls for the closure of all dispensaries that opened after 2007. That would be anywhere from 800 to 1,000. City estimates are that there were approximately 180 clinics open in 2007.
According to the planning commission’s proposal, those 180 clinics could stay open if they follow a laundry list of rules. Those would include such measures as keeping a 1,000-foot distance from schools and churches, prohibiting unaccompanied minors from coming in and barring patients from actually using the drug on the property. Collectives of three or fewer patients wouldn’t be affected would be exempt, as would their caregivers. The new rules were approved by the commission in a unanimous 5-0 vote.
This measure has not yet received approval from the city council, but there is a strong likelihood that it may, given the two outside proposals that are on the table from marijuana advocates trying to put it to a public vote in the upcoming May election. Those efforts are still in the signature-gathering process, and would provide for far more lenient regulations.
That’s probably not what council members want to see happen, as evidenced by their vote earlier this summer to shut all city medical marijuana dispensaries down completely. You may recall, that ban was set to take effect in September, but council formally rescinded the ordinance the following month, when advocates gathered more than enough signatures needed to place a referendum overturning the law on the ballot
Since then, city leaders have been grappling with what to do next. This is the first formal attempt the city has made to move forward on the issue.
Still, nothing is expected to happen immediately. First, the commission has agreed to turn over the proposal to the city attorney’s office, which intends to do some technical tweaking of the language before it is sent to council for a vote.
Despite the fact that the measure would close most of the marijuana dispensaries in the city, some advocates are praising the proposal. The state’s Americans for Safe Access called it a fair compromise, though he did ask that those operations that would be allowed to stay be given a bit of time to relocate their clinics in order to be in compliance with the new law, should it pass.
The group Angelenos for Safe Access said that it was a “quality ordinance” that would allow medical marijuana patients the ability to safely and readily access the drug. However, he did say that council should consider the possibility that it could be overturned in the spring by voters in favor of a more lenient law.
Plus, there is another potential threat to the new ordinance, should it pass. The California Supreme Court has yet to schedule any arguments on the issue, which means it is somewhat of an awkward time to bring forward any legislation. If it is passed, it may ultimately end up being the subject of numerous lawsuits, most likely brought by those dispensaries that are forced to close.
Previous attempts by the city to implement a law that would dictate when and where dispensaries could operate have been blocked by a handful of challenges in the form of direct litigation and conflicting court rulings elsewhere.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.
Planning Commission OKs new rules for medical marijuana clinics, Nov. 29, 2012, By Alice Walton, 89.3 KPCC Southern California Public Radio
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