D.A. Defies L.A. City Leaders, Vows To Prosecute Pot Sellers

The Los Angeles County District Attorney on Tuesday defied the Los Angeles City Council leaders who pushed for a new marijuana dispensary ordinance that would allow cash, over-the-counter sales of pot.

"The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office will continue to prosecute dispensary operators who violate California law," stated John K. Spillane, chief deputy District Attorney. "Any proposed ordinance allowing for the sales of marijuana is in direct conflict with California's Compassionate Use Act and Medical Marijuana Program."

At issue is whether or not dispensaries can sell pot to people who have cards issued by doctors who have determined they need the drug for medicinal purposes. District Attorney Steve Cooley and his municipal counterpart, Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, believe that state law, as spelled out under the 1996 passage of Prop. 215 and subsequent court rulings, only allows for marijuana to be distributed to members of collectives for nonprofit purposes.

In rejecting Trutanich's proposed law to regulate city dispensaries, which have grown to an estimated 800 or so outlets without much regulation, two City Council committees on Monday sought to restore the concept of selling pop for cash.

The full council was expected to look at a new ordinance to regulate dispensaries on Wednesday or perhaps Friday, but City Hall has so far seemed reluctant to constrain dispensaries with city law: The council has been looking at new regulations for more than a year, during which time dispensaries in the city have blossomed virtually unregulated.

"The City Council has no authority to amend state law or Prop 215," said Spillane. "Such authority is solely possessed by California voters. They voted for and passed the Compassionate Use Act, which only authorizes the possession, use and cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The sale of marijuana is illegal under state law."

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