LA Weighs Curbs on Medical-Marijuana Dispensaries
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LA Weighs Curbs on Medical-Marijuana Dispensaries
Posted by CN Staff on November 18, 2009 at 12:03:30 PT
By John R. Emshwiller
Source: Wall Street Journal
Los Angeles -- The city council here could vote today on a measure that seeks to rein in the estimated 1,000 medical-marijuana dispensaries that have sprung up locally, most within the last year.Voters approved an initiative in 1996 to allow seriously ill individuals to use marijuana for medical purposes and a 2003 state law permitted the formation of collectives to distribute marijuana. But in Los Angeles, store-front marijuana dispensaries proliferated unchecked because the city council never set guidelines for how they should operate. Some aggressively promote themselves with billboards and neon signs. Others have opened up near schools.
That has created a situation that some believe has turned into a public nuisance, or worse. The roughly 1,000 dispensaries in Los Angeles compare with the 30 in San Francisco, which set up rules for how they could operate.Law-enforcement officials contend that many of these dispensaries are nothing more than illegal, high-profit drug dens hiding behind the fig leaf of providing a medical service. Operators and their defenders contend that they are trying to provide a valuable service that the 1996 law legalized.Though the city council has been wrestling with the issue for some time, it is still struggling to find a remedy that would allow it to adequately regulate the dispensaries.Earlier this week, at a city council committee hearing, council members rejected a proposal from the Los Angeles city attorney to ban over-the-counter sales at these dispensaries. Under the two California medical-marijuana measures, "over-the-counter cash sales aren't lawful," says David Berger, special assistant city attorney. Mr. Berger said that if a marijuana cooperative or collective, which is supposed to operated on a not-for-profit basis, needs to recoup costs from members it should do so through something like monthly dues.However, Los Angeles dispensaries routinely sell marijuana over the counter to individuals who have obtained a letter from a physician. Dispensary defenders argue that the state law allows such sales. The Los Angeles city attorney has a "misguided and erroneous interpretation of state law in that regard," says Kris Hermes a spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group on medical-marijuana issues.City Councilman Ed Reyes, who has been active on the medical-marijuana issue, says the council committee rejected a sales ban because it believed there was no other practical way to distribute marijuana to those who qualify for it."To create access, you must have a structure that allows dispensaries to survive," he says. Mr. Reyes favors an approach that would allow sales but set up "rigorous" inspection and auditing procedures to ensure that dispensaries are operating safely and on a not-for-profit basis."It's not like we're creating Starbucks for medical marijuana," he says. He added that the city council needs to find a way to force the number of dispensaries needs to "shrink dramatically."The pending city ordinance also looks to regulate matters such as how close dispensaries can be to schools and similar locations.Some local law-enforcement officials have grown frustrated with the situation and are vowing to take action. Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley says he won't tolerate dispensaries selling marijuana—no matter what the city council says.Mr. Cooley, an elected official who doesn't report to the council, said in a statement Tuesday that "the sale of marijuana is illegal under state law" and the city council "has no authority to amend state law." Mr. Cooley, who is the chief state prosecutor in a county that includes Los Angeles and numerous other cities, has promised to bring criminal charges against dispensary operators breaking state law.Source: Wall Street Journal (US)Author: John R. EmshwillerPublished: November 18, 2009Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.Contact: wsj.ltrs wsj.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on November 18, 2009 at 18:25:49 PT
News Article From The LA Times Blog
L.A. City Council Puts Off Marijuana Vote Until Next Week At The EarliestNovember 18, 2009URL:
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Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on November 18, 2009 at 14:14:54 PT
Where's the respect for the businessman? Why would the WSJ be so quick to shut down 1,000 profitable businesses? What, do we need to open a hedge fund, would that make them happy?Also, from wikipedia - population San Francisco 800,000. Los Angeles: 3.8 million.Also I believe there are 1,000 dispenasries in LA county. I'll bet there are hundreds of dispensaries in SF if you include the entire bay area.But then you'd expect the WSJ article to be filled with propaganda.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on November 18, 2009 at 13:25:31 PT
AP: LA Council Delays Vote on Marijuana Ordinance
November 18, 2009Calif. -- The Los Angeles City Council has delayed a vote on a medical marijuana ordinance that would allow some cash transactions at dispensaries. The ordinance—in its sixth revision—was going to be considered Wednesday by council members. However, the council wanted more time to review the draft proposal and will discuss it on Tuesday. A vote may not be taken until next month. The ordinance clashes with recent comments made by Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, who said state law does not authorize sales of marijuana at dispensaries. California voters approved a ballot measure in 1996 that permits sick people to smoke pot if they have referrals from doctors and an identification card.Copyright: 2009 Associated Press
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Comment #1 posted by James Crosby on November 18, 2009 at 12:21:29 PT
Why are they not taking note of the some 15,000 alcohol sale sites? Why are we considering 1,000 dispensaries to be a lot, when we have so many more places that distribute alcohol & tobacco than we have for cannabis. People are blowing this way outta proportion for their own benefit. 
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