Perhaps the joint city council committee looking at a new pot dispensary ordinance Monday had good reason to back off the city attorney's hard-and-fast ban on the “sale of marijuana” in Los Angeles: Two medical-marijuana advocacy groups have threatened to sue should such a law be passed by the city.

Americans For Safe Access on Monday stated the courts in California have supported the sale of pot to patients with doctors' approvals and that if the council moves forward with is sales ban it will take City Hall to court.

“The City Attorney has consistently argued that medical marijuana sales are illegal,” said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford. “Neither the Los Angeles City Attorney nor the City Council has the right to ban activity that is protected under state law. Medical marijuana sales have been deemed legal by the state legislature, the courts, and the California Attorney General.”

The city attorney's office has argued that state law only allows for nonprofit collectives with members and a limited amount (five pounds) of the drug on-hand.

A joint meeting of two council committees today, however, watered down Trutanich's language with the caveat that any city regulation allow pot sales. The committees also supported regulation that would not force dispensaries to turn over the names of patients to authorities. (The names “shall be made available by the collective to the Police Department upon request,” according to the older language).

Americans For Safe Access also has a problem with language that would prohibit dispensaries from being within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, rehabilitation centers and other institutions.

It's not clear if the group is satisfied with today's joint-committee recommendations. But one thing's for sure, they'll be watching as the council hashes out the ordinance later this week.

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