Marijuana Dispensary Ban: L.A. City Council Will Probably Postpone Tomorrow's Vote

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Thu, Jun 21, 2012 at 10:40 AM
click to enlarge False alarm.
  • False alarm.

[Update, 2:30 p.m.: Christopher Koontz, planning deputy for Councilman Paul Koretz -- who has proposed a softer ban to rival the strict one -- says he "got an email from some of the anti-ban people" saying tomorrow's vote would be delayed. But he hasn't been able to confirm this with Council President Herb Wesson, because Wesson's office isn't answering his (or our) calls. This is one mystery that certain city leaders clearly don't want solved until the last possible second.]

We got word today from frustrated medical-marijuana advocates that the big L.A. City Council vote tomorrow -- on an all-out ban of the city's 500-odd marijuana dispensaries -- will be postponed at least another week.

Sharon Dickinson at the L.A. City Clerk's Office says the item is still on the agenda. However, she says that once the July 22 meeting begins, councilmembers "could decide to continue the item."

How convenient.

Dispensary owner Matt "The Hammer" Cohen says a rep from UFCW Local 770 (the powerful union that recently took pot-shop workers under its wing) called him last night and told him to halt the troops.

"The union asked everbody to take their flyers down and to stop mobilizing patients," says Cohen.

The dispensary owner was told that "three or four councilmembers" wouldn't be in attendance at the meeting, so the council planned to postpone the item "nine or 10 days." Matt Kumin, a San Francisco attorney who's been super involved in L.A. pot-shop law, says he likewise got the call.

We've contacted the union -- as well as a spokesman for Councilman Jose Huizar, who authored the ban -- to confirm.

But City Council delays like this are all too common on controversial and heavily opposed items. By constantly putting off a final vote, politicians are able to wear protesters down and whittle the crowd to a devoted (and often loony) few.

"You could almost think of it as a consiracy theory from my side of the aisle," says Cohen. "I can't tell you how many times since 2006 that something was going to come before the council, and then we find out it's not going to happen."

He says this makes it "really hard to mobilize patients. It's a little demotivating."

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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