Los Angeles’s attempt to regulate the distribution of medical marijuana appears to be coming to an end after the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously this week to ban all marijuana dispensaries. This ban may come as a surprise to many especially since the ban also opened the door to possibly letting some dispensaries remain. Under this new ban all of the 762 marijuana dispensaries registered in the city of Los Angeleswill be sent letters in the mail ordering them to shut down immediately. Failure to comply with the newly voted ban will ultimately result in legal action from the city. As expected, this new ban caused many Angelinos to be unhappy with the ruling and prompted several activists to threaten with lawsuits.
This new ordinance will allow patients and their caregivers to grow and share marijuana in groups of three people or fewer. However, many activists argue that most people do not have the time nor the knowledge to allow them to grow their own marijuana at home. Councilman Jose Huizar, who was in favor of the ban and who received support from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and police Chief Charlie Beck have faith that this new ban will help restore peace to the neighborhoods where these problematic dispensaries are located. The most evident issue with this new ban is that it is also confusing in that the Los Angeles City Council when voting to ban these dispensaries to shut down they also voted to instruct city staff members to draw up a separate ordinance that would allow dozens of marijuana dispensaries to remain open. This ordinance would grant immunity to those dispensaries that existed before a 2007 moratorium on new dispensaries.
How cities should regulate the distribution of marijuana has been a perplexing issue since Californiapassed a 1996 initiative legalizing medical marijuana. Officials are looking to an upcoming ruling by the state Supreme Court for clarity on whether cities can regulate and ban dispensaries, however that ruling may not come for another year which is why the city ofLos Angelesfelt the urge to take action in the meantime. Council members argue that something had to be done now to reduce the number of dispensaries which according to them outnumber Starbucks Coffee shops inLos Angelestwo to one. On the other hand those in favor dispensaries argue that this temporary solution will not do anything function properly and in fact will only drive the distribution of marijuana underground. It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out over the next few couple of months. The Law Offices will continue to monitor it. If you or a loved one have question about this issue or any other criminal defense issue, please give us a call toll free at 1-800-351-6860 or check us out online.