Marijuana Ban in Los Angeles Heads to City Council: Dispensary Group Pushes Alternatives | The Informer | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Marijuana Ban in Los Angeles Heads to City Council: Dispensary Group Pushes Alternatives

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Tue, Jan 31, 2012 at 7:07 AM

click to enlarge ANDREW HECHT
  • Andrew Hecht
It looks like the City Council will vote on banning all of L.A.'s iconic pot shops in February after the Public Safety Committee gave the idea a unanimous okay last week, officials say.

The prospect of seeing our town lose its 500 or so medical dispensaries has inspired the Union of Medical Marijuana Patients to present City Hall with alternatives.

This morning the group will ...

... hold a press conference outlining its alternatives.

Sounds like too little too late to us. The City Council has tried to get a grip on the burgeoning retail pot scene in L.A. only to be burned by retailers that have taken advantage of the body's indecision, waffling and spotty enforcement.

This time, Councilman Jose Huizar, a former pot shop supporter, is saying to hell with it: Let's just shut them all down.

His rationale is mainly a state appellate court's decision that says Long Beach can't regulate an industry that is basically federally outlawed anyway: no lottery system to reduce the number of shops. No permits.

Since L.A. does it that way too, the ruling makes it hard for the city to regulate dispensaries.

But the state Supreme Court has vowed to review that decision, and it could be overturned.

Meanwhile, dispensary supporters say there's still a way to regulate pot shops without killing them all.

One proposal calls on the city to simply enforce existing rules and deal with neighbors' complaints about dispensaries according to those ordinances (noise, loitering and the like).

The second says the city can implement a "ban with abeyance" in which shops that "are operating in compliance with local and state law" are allowed to stay open despite a ban. Those that aren't would be closed.

A little magical thinking here?

This is the group that says shutting down all the dispensaries in town could be in violation of the law because "dispersing up to 1.5 million plants and associated dispensaries into every neighborhood creates an environmental impact that needs to be assessed."

The organization's director, James Shaw, also says:

What this means is that if the City bans dispensaries that all these patients will be forced to take the six plants they are legally entitled to grow to their homes, creating mini-marijuana farms, and their associated dispensaries in every neighborhood in the city, each of which will potentially attract robberies. This would be a disaster after all the progress made in recent years in reducing violent crime.

Robberies? Aren't these the same people who supported a now-debunked RAND study that essentially projected that crime actually goes down around open dispensaries?

That's some good stuff. (We're talking about the union's arguments.)

The press conference happens at 9:30 a.m. outside City Council chambers.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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