As the City Council worked out a compromise to come up with an pot-shop ordinance that they and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich can agree on, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took a stance against the kind of over-the-counter medical marijuana sales that that mark the city's several hundred dispensaries.
"The sale of medical marijuana is illegal," Villaraigosa told the Los Angeles Daily News. "Anything that comes to me (for signature) must be clear that these are legal operations ... Any of the dispensaries that are illegal should be closed down.''
It's only been the better part of two years that the mayor and the city council have been grappling with the issue. Last year state Attorney General Jerry Brown opined that Prop. 215, the law that allows the cultivation and doctor-approved use of marijuana for "seriously ill" people, does not have any provision for the kind of retail, over-the-counter sales we see now in Los Angeles.
The mayor's comments, after years of standing on the sideline on the issue, came in the wake of an LA Weekly investigation into the pot-dispensary business that found the city has been sitting on its hands as dispensaries reap 100 percent profits from weed supplied by a black market that includes local gangs, an increasing number of grow houses (one operation was recently discovered behind a Los Angeles police station) and the Mexican Mafia.
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The City Council spent most of the day yesterday trying to come to terms with that reality and came to a compromise: City Councilman Eric Garcetti proposed language that seemed to appease the City Attorney's office, which had been opposed to any cash sales of pot.
Dispensaries would be allowed to receive "cash contributions, reimbursements and compensations for the actual expenses of the growth and provision of the collective
cultivation... provided in compliance with state law.''
Still to be worked out is whether the council will limit the number of dispensaries, control their supply lines or mandate that pot must be grown on-site, an idea that Councilman Paul Koretz didn't like because, as he argued, so many pot shops were located in small store fronts in strip malls.