Council Debates Medical Marijuana Guidelines
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Council Debates Medical Marijuana Guidelines
Posted by CN Staff on November 24, 2009 at 20:15:33 PT
By Rick Orlov, Staff Writer
Source: Contra Costa Times 
California -- With Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa vowing to block any measure that allows for-profit pot sales, the City Council managed Tuesday to hammer out some guidelines for a long-awaited medical marijuana ordinance. During a five-hour session marked by an hourlong power outage, the council debated details of the measure, including signage, location and odor control.
The major issue, however, remains reimbursement. District Attorney Steve Cooley recently said he will prosecute any pot clinics engaging in over-the-counter sales of marijuana, and Villaraigosa said Tuesday he will not sign any ordinance that violates state law. "I am concerned about the legality of these operations," Villaraigosa said in an interview. "I think the district attorney - and what my attorneys tell me - are the same thing: that the sale of marijuana is illegal. "Anything that comes to me must be clear that these are legal operations," Villaraigosa said. "Any of the dispensaries that are illegal should be closed down." The number of clinics operating in Los Angeles has exploded over the past four years - from 186 clinics that originally applied for permission to operate to an estimated 1,000 now. Trying to clamp down on the clinics, the council suggestions included capping the number of dispensaries at 70 to 200 and allowing reimbursement at those clinics for "actual expenses." "We need to make sure we are doing this in the right manner," Council President Eric Garcetti said. "We don't want to have too many, but we don't want to have too few, where you get spillover complaints." Councilman Ed Reyes, who has working for years on the ordinance, said he was ready for it to move forward. "We have made substantial progress, and I think we will have something in place by the end of the year," Reyes said. At one point, Councilwoman Janice Hahn chastised her colleagues for the laborious debate. "It seems to me we are missing the point of all this," Hahn said. "We are here to deal with medical marijuana clinics and not all these other issues. It seems like we are trying to put too much into this ordinance." However, Councilman Jose Huizar pressed for more limits on the clinics and insisted that they provide only the marijuana grown on the premises. Also, he pressed for annual audits of the operations to make sure the marijuana is not imported. Councilman Richard Alarcon agreed. "I want to make sure the marijuana is for use by people who need it and not some gangbanger running a clinic under my office in the Valley," Alarcon said. He did push through a provision that would allow medical marijuana in nursing homes, hospices or similar facilities where it is most needed. "It doesn't make sense to not allow it where it is most needed," Alarcon said. Source: Contra Costa Times (CA)Author:  Rick Orlov, Staff WriterPublished: November 24, 2009Copyright: 2009 Bay Area News GroupContact: letters cctimes.comURL: Medical Marijuana Archives
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