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Yet the City Council and school board have yet to open a meaningful dialogue. “On issues that impact LAUSD, there’s been a lack of formal or even informal communication and coordination between the [City] Council and the school board,” says board member Galatzan. “This is the latest manifestation of that problem.”
Galatzan, an attorney who works for the L.A. City Attorney’s Office dealing with street-level crime, supports a tough ordinance proposed by her boss, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, which among other things would ban dispensaries within 1,000 feet of a school.
The Los Angeles City Council failed for years to adopt state-required local medical-marijuana regulations that other cities, including San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, long ago debated and approved.
Those three politically liberal cities cracked down on pot profiteers while adopting rules that allow the ill to easily obtain weed. The City Council here, gridlocked and unable to decide what to do, instead adopted a series of moratoriums — and then missed the state’s legal deadline for acting. Now the council is unhappy with Trutanich’s plan, and is looking at its options once again.
At the time of the Grant High incident, Los Angeles dispensaries had mushroomed from just four in 2005 to dozens in 2006. That was before the great medical-bud flood of the last 18 months.
LaMotte and recently elected school board member Steve Zimmer say they too support a 1,000-foot restriction. Zimmer, however, says his is a narrow endorsement of that one provision. He has problems with the rest of Trutanich’s ordinance, which bans the selling of pot over the counter and profiting from it. Zimmer particularly objects to calls to shut down the existing pot stores.
“I support the 1,000-feet restriction because I believe in creating ‘safe passages’ for our students to travel to and from school,” Zimmer says. “But I also support medical marijuana, and I think Trutanich and [Steve] Cooley are focused too much on suppression and not enough on harm reduction.”
Zimmer insists, “They won’t get one student to stop smoking weed by shutting down the dispensaries.”
Frank Sheftel, an advocate of the medical-marijuana movement and co-founder of the Toluca Lake Collective, a medicinal-pot outlet, favors a restriction of 600 feet, as with liquor stores and pharmacies. “Why create a different set of standards for this industry?” he asks.
But Galatzan notes that pharmacies require written physician prescriptions — not verbal recommendations, as with medical pot — and are so heavily regulated that no L.A. schoolchildren can score drugs at pharmacies. Moreover, liquor stores operate under strict laws forcing them to check age and I.D. Pot stores “are totally different from liquor stores, where kids are not allowed, because minors are [being] allowed into dispensaries,” Galatzan says.
David Berger, a special assistant to Trutanich, tells the Weekly that at least two police investigations are under way involving students and medical marijuana. One stems from a community complaint about a dispensary whose “stoned people” hang out next to a Lexington Avenue elementary school. The other is in Venice, where a pot store opened directly across from one public school and down the block from another. Berger says, “LAPD is documenting all this stuff for us now.”
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