Cash For Pot Is Cheating, Judge Says; City Moves Forward To Allow It Anyway

Moses Griffin.
Moses Griffin.
Fox

At this point Moses himself could descend from the mountaintops with a declaration that thou shalt not sell freakin' pot in retail storefronts and the Los Angeles City Council would move ahead with its ordinance to allow cash-for-marijuana in L.A.

This week a superior court judge ruled that sales of marijuana are flat-out illegal in the state, even under Prop. 215. Judge James Chalfant is following in the footsteps of state Attorney General Jerry Brown, L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich in opining that voters did not have retail sales of pot in mind when they voted for a proposition that would allow for the nonprofit, collective cultivation of marijuana for the "seriously ill."

And still, the council will consider an ordinance Tuesday that will allow for "cash contributions, reimbursements and compensations for the actual expenses of the growth and provision of the collective cultivation of medical marijuana, provided in compliance with state law." But the proposed law does not, in fact, have any way of finding out and regulating whether an operation is profitable or not.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Judge Chalfant anticipated loopholes bigger than Humboldt County. For example, he said, a shop owner could pay himself a half-million dollars out of his till, call it an expense, and claim that he's breaking even. "Any way you slice that banana, that is the sale of marijuana for profit,'' he's quoted as saying.

Councilman Ed Reyes, who's been trying to get an pot-shop ordinance passed for nearly two years, anticipated having the issue play out in courts. Let us repeat: AFTER TWO YEARS OF DELIBERATIONS AND CONSTANT WARNINGS FROM TOP LOCAL AND STATE LEGAL OFFICIALS, THE CITY COUNCIL WILL PASS A LEGALLY QUESTIONAL ORDINANCE ANYWAY THAT AT LEAST ONE COUNCILMAN ANTICIPATES WILL THEN BE SUBJECT TO, AS HE PUT IT, "THE WHOLE APPEAL PROCESS."

Sorry to yell. But pro-medical marijuana advocates shouldn't blame the messenger here. They should be concerned that they have a City Council that takes nearly two years to come up with a way of making medical marijuana distribution safe and legal in L.A. and are still bound to come up with something that will be shot full of holes by the court system. Welcome to L.A.

Check out LA Weekly's investigation into the largely unregulated nature of pot dispensaries here. Check out our list (PDF) of city pot shops here.


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