Laws Protecting Churches From Pot Shops Questioned

Los Angeles is one of those cities that have enacted laws limiting how far medical marijuana dispensaries can be from "sensitive use" sites that include schools, playgrounds, parks and rehab centers. The L.A. law, like others, also includes churches on that list.

Journalist Greg Campbell writes at dscriber that its a strange inclusion given that churches are supposed to be places that encourage compassion, healing and sympathy.

He believes churches would be more welcoming of dispensaries than some local governments would have you believe, and he cites a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey to prove his point: It shows 52 percent (versus 40 percent) of churchgoers believe government is too involved in moral issues.

"Cannabis has been used as a sacrament for ages -- by Synthians, Chinese, Rastafarians, Hindus and perhaps even the Hebrews in early anointing oil," Campbell writes. "Why in the world erect bureaucratic barriers between churches and a natural healing plant that can provide succor to cancer patients, AIDS patients, and sufferers of other maladies?"

We'd add one more thing about churches that should differentiate them when cities legislate pot-shop zones: They're not public entities, and there is supposed to be a separation of church and state. Why would one private entity deserve more "protection" from pot shops than any other?

L.A.'s pot shop ordinance, which will effectively shut down more than 400 dispensaries that don't comply with the sensitive-use boundaries and other provisions, takes effect June 7.

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