L.A.'s medical marijuana ordinance takes effect today. 400 Marijuana Dispensaries To Close In Los Angeles



L.A.'s medical marijuana ordinance takes effect


Story Published: Jun 7, 2010 at 4:53 AM PDT

Story Updated: Jun 7, 2010 at 4:53 AM PDT

More than 400 medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles are under orders to close Monday, but as many as 186 of the dispensaries can remain open as a new city ordinance takes effect.

Eventually, the city hopes to whittle the number of pot shops down to 70 and to limit outlets to industrial areas. By some estimates, as many as 1,000 dispensaries were in operation last summer.

Dispensaries that opened before the city declared a moratorium on Nov. 13, 2007, will be allowed to stay open but, within six months, they will have to comply with the ordinance, which has a strict zoning component.

City prosecutors have yet to say how they plan to enforce the ordinance, but fines for violating it could run as high as $2,500 per day.

Under a statewide proposition approved by voters in 1996, collectives and nonprofit groups can sell small amounts of marijuana to people with notes from physicians. The dispensaries are supposed to be nonprofit, although they are allowed to pay salaries and recoup other expenses.

On Friday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant rejected a request by dispensaries and patients for a restraining order preventing the ordinance from taking effect. The judge noted that the city ordinance would not prevent patients from obtaining medical marijuana.

The City Attorney's Office sent letters last month to the operators of about 400 dispensaries, ordering them to close by Monday.

The dispensaries allowed to stay open are required to file a notice of intent to register with the City Clerk's Office and will be put on a priority list.

City staffers will then inspect them to ensure they are at least 1,000 feet away from schools, public parks, public libraries and religious institutions, or another pot dispensary.

If two dispensaries are within 1,000 feet of each other, the City Clerk's Office will use the priority list to determine which one can stay open.

The ordinance bars dispensaries from being "on a lot abutting, across the street or alley from, or having a common corner with a residentially zoned lot or a lot improved with residential use.''



400 Marijuana Dispensaries To Close In Los Angeles
by Mandalit del Barco

June 7, 2010

Los Angeles is home to hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries, but concern over their proliferation has provoked a backlash. Police are cracking down on most of them starting Monday.

A new city ordinance limits the number and locations of medical marijuana dispensaries allowed to operate in Los Angeles. Those that registered with the city before a 2007 moratorium may be able to remain in business. But they can't be near schools, libraries, parks and other sensitive areas. Police officers will begin closing down 400 unregistered dispensaries now operating illegally.

"The sky isn't going to fall down," says Asha Greenberg, assistant city attorney. "LAPD isn't going to go around kicking down doors, etc. Initially we're going to be doing information gathering."

Greenberg says L.A.'s new ordinance makes it a misdemeanor to run a dispensary without city approval.

"Anyone who is operating a medical marijuana establishment, who is violating the city's ordinance is subject to arrest," Greenberg says.

Dispensary owners and patients have filed more than 20 lawsuits against the city, arguing that the ordinance is unconstitutional because it prohibits access to their medicine. So far, their attempts at temporary restraining orders have been turned down in court.

"It's like treating us like drug dealers," says Darcy Hughes, who used to manage the dispensary B Green. "It's not right."

B Green closed because of the new law. Hughes agrees that there were far too many unregulated dispensaries in Los Angeles, but she and her patients don't know where they'll get their medicine.

"I think the city is a little embarrassed about what happened," Hughes adds. "This is what they're trying to do to fix the situation. I think they got a little harsh. Unfortunately, I'll see a rise in street [sales] — back to the way it was before the dispensaries."

Under the new ordinance, those who illegally sell medical marijuana in Los Angeles could face daily fines, a $1,000 penalty and six months in jail.

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