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City Attorney Trutanich Holds His Line Against Pot Shops

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Fri, Mar 5, 2010 at 2:25 PM

click to enlarge City Attorney Carmen Trutanich.
  • City Attorney Carmen Trutanich.
Sell a dime bag, go to jail. Even if you're running medical marijuana dispensary. That's the ominous message coming from Los Angeles City Carmen Trutanich this week via an opinion piece in the Daily News.

Responding to an Americans for Safe Access lawsuit that seeks to overturn the city's new ordinance limiting medical marijuana outlets, Trutanich repeated his belief that state law does not allow for the retail sales and profit-based selling of marijuana, medical or not.

"The law ... does not allow collectives or so-called 'dispensaries' to sell marijuana or otherwise unlawfully operate a highly profitable commercial enterprise under the cynical guise of purportedly providing medicine to patients," Trutanich writes.

"The law clearly prohibits the sale of marijuana and the distribution of contaminated consumer drugs and medicines," he states. "If pharmacies were found to be distributing aspirin contaminated with pesticides, how long would any bottles of that particular brand remain on store shelves?"

Actually, the Americans for Safe Access suit doesn't argue the sales point: It focuses on the city's buffer zones for schools, churches and parks that would put most dispensaries out of business. The group says the pot shops would be shut down without "due process."

But pro-medical marijuana advocates like ASA do argue that 1996's Prop. 215 and a subsequent clarification by the legislature allow retail pot shops to exist and peddle weed. But Trutanich, as well as District Attorney Steve Cooley and Attorney General Jerry Brown, have stated that California's medical marijuana language only allow for nonprofit collectives that grow a limited amount of weed for the "seriously ill."

In his opinion piece, Trutanich says if you don't like the fine print, you can always change it: "If the voters or the legislature of California believe that the laws pertaining to marijuana and consumer protection should be amended," he writes, "then they must act to effect those changes."

A few such opportunities, including a state assembly bill and a voter initiative that would legalize pot for the not-so-ill, are expected to arise this year.

(Spotted at LAist).

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