Medical Marijuana Activists in L.A. Submit 50,000 Signatures for Ballot Measure to Overturn Dispensary Ban
Medical marijuana activists in Los Angeles turned in about 50,000 voter signatures to the city clerk Wednesday, hoping to force a ballot referendum to repeal a recently passed ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles. The ban was approved by the L.A. City Council last month.
Now the ordinance must be temporarily suspended, according to election officials in the city clerk's office. The signatures will then be verified against voter registration information. If they are found to be valid, the ban would be further suspended until voters get a chance to decide whether to keep it in place.
As an alternative to a total ban – which now looks very unlikely to stand - Councilman Paul Koretz is pushing for a new law that would allow 100 or so of the city's oldest and most established dispensaries to remain in business.
"The city needs a small number of well-regulated and patient-centered dispensaries," he said Tuesday. Without it, he said, "the city will be stuck with no rules and no protections again."
Leaving 100 dispensaries open is certainly better than closing them, but in the end, how many dispensaries are open should be primarily left to the market. The City Council needs to adopt a set of regulations, then let the market do the rest.
In fact, isn’t that one of the jobs of the city council? It’s certainly not their job to shut down 1,000 businesses and kill thousands of private sector jobs. Would you vote for a person for city council if they promised to destroy a few thousand jobs? Of course not. The voters of Los Angeles need to overhaul their City Council completely; these people are not fighting for you.
Berkeley, CA Dispensary Closed by Feds to Reopen Down the Street
A few months ago the Berkeley Patients Group – one of the most respected dispensaries in California – was forced from its original location by threats from the federal government.
But BPG has found a new location right down the street from the old one, and work has begun on a 14,000 square foot lot and dilapidated 1,200 square foot building that has been an eyesore for as long as most residents can remember.
The owner of the new property said she is not worried about threats from the federal government for renting to a medical marijuana outlet.
"Our property is not close to any school," said Nahla Droubi, who has owned the lot for 10 years. "The previous landlord had a very good experience with this group. He said they were very organized, and most important thing is they had no violations and great security."
The same could be said about Harborside Health Center in Oakland, but that didn’t stop the feds from threatening them.
The property owner also said that she talked to the Berkeley Police Department, the city attorney and neighboring landlords at the group's previous site down the street "and I heard they had no problems."
"It's good to see a business in that place because its been dead for a quarter century," said Herb Permillion, owner of a typewriter repair shop next door called California Office Machines. "I might have a concern about parking. Right now there is room on the street, but if they have a big overflow crowd, it could be tricky."
But another business owner nearby said they were worried that the dispensary would attract “riffraff.” A bigoted statement that just goes to show that there is much work still be done wiping the stigma from marijuana.
Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ban Thrown Out in California Supreme Court
Last Week the California Supreme Court dismissed review of an important appellate court ruling, and this will have implications for medical marijuana patients throughout the state.
The CA Supreme Court threw out the controversial decision in Pack v. City of Long Beach, which had said that federal law preempted some forms of dispensary regulations. The Pack decision has been used by several municipalities, including Los Angeles and Long Beach, to suspend or ban outright the distribution of medical marijuana. But now the dismissal of Pack removes the legal precedent used in many bans.
"This is an important moment for medical marijuana patients in California," said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's leading medical marijuana advocacy organization. "The California Supreme Court has essentially pulled out the rug from under local officials who have used the Pack decision to deny access to medical marijuana for thousands of patients across the state," continued Elford. "Pack is now a dead letter and, because of the California Rules of Court (Rule 8.528), it is disingenuous for any public official to contend that the Court of Appeal decision is somehow reinstated."
The reason for the dismissal of the case was that after the California Supreme Court decided to review the appellate decision, the Long Beach City Council repealed and replaced the ordinance with an outright ban on dispensaries thereby making moot the issues before the court. In addition, the petitioners in Pack "have now abandoned their federal preemption argument in favor of unrelated issues not raised or decided at any prior stage of this proceeding," according to the court.
The recent ban on dispensaries in Los Angeles is predicated on the Pack case, meaning the city council has little legal cover left for their awful decision.
DEA Targets 23 Medical Marijuana Dispensaries In Washington State
On Thursday the DEA sent letters to 23 medical marijuana businesses in Western Washington, warning they could be prosecuted and the properties seized if they are operating within a school zone.
“Please take the necessary steps to discontinue the sale and/or distribution of marijuana…within 30 days,” read the letter, signed by Matthew G. Barnes, special agent in charge for the Seattle field office.
“I am confident that once notified of the ramifications and penalties associated with renting a property for marijuana distribution purposes, property owners will take appropriate steps to rectify the situation on their own. The DEA will not turn a blind eye to criminal organizations that attempt to use state or local law as a shield for their illicit drug trafficking activities,” Barnes said in a statement.
The letters follow the same pattern of letters to hundreds of dispensaries in Colorado and all over the west coast.
“We need to enforce one message for our students: drugs have no place in or near our schools,” the U.S. Attorney for Western Washington, Jenny Durkan, said in a statement.
Why aren’t officials worried about the message that hiding medical marijuana sends to kids? It tells them that cannabis is bad, so when they need medical help, they will turn to dangerous and addictive prescription drugs.
To be fair, dispensaries are not legal under Washington state law, but that still does not make it a matter for the DEA. They are using federal law to butt into state business.
An attempt was made to legalize and regulate them and a bill passed the state Legislature last year, but it was vetoed by Gov. Chris Gregorie. The Governor’s veto left intact a law that allows 15 patients to band together to form a 45-plant “collective garden.” Some medical marijuana storefronts have used a broad interpretation of that provision to form networks of collective gardens, with patients signing into an open slot in a garden.
Marijuana Dispensaries See Hope in California Supreme Court Move
The Stupidity of L.A.s Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ban
In this video The Young Turks discuss the recent medical cannabis dispensary ban in the city of Los Angeles and how…well, stupid it is. They also tie the city council’s decision into the larger drug war as a whole, and how depressing it is to see what seems like regression on an issue we thought we had won.
But patients and advocates will continue to fight. In fact, on Friday a medical marijuana trade group and 11 patients sued the city of Los Angeles, looking to block enforcement of an ordinance that would shut down most of the city's storefront pot dispensaries in three weeks.
The lawsuit, which says users are protected by California's 1996 legalization of medical marijuana and the U.S. Constitution, seeks an immediate injunction to keep Los Angeles officials from closing down dispensaries beginning on Sept. 6.
Meanwhile, advocates are canvassing the city gathering signatures to get a repeal of the ban on the ballot. A lot of energy that should be directed at helping patients now has to be spent defending the very right of people to have a choice in what medicine they take.
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