Has Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti flip-flopped on medical weed shops?

It was only a few weeks ago, on November 6, that Garcetti, now a leading voice in the debate over a medical marijuana ordinance, told L.A. Weekly that he thought medical marijuana stores don't “need to be everywhere” and medical weed patients should hop on a bus to get their medicine.

“My thoughts are we need to ensure access,” Garcetti told the Weekly, “but we don't have to have these (dispensaries) every block or sometimes multiple ones per block. For folks who have medical conditions, there should be access as the voters of California voted for to the medicinal use of marijuana. But it needs to regulated and it doesn't need to be everywhere. It should be away from sensitive use places. There should be spacing between these. There's not a doctor on every block. There's not a bar on every block.”

In fact, during the interview, Garcetti seemed to take the kind of hard-line stance you'd hear from other City Council members such as Richard Alarcon or Greig Smith.

“If you want to ask me, what my opinion is,” Garcetti told the Weekly, “I believe there should be large spaces between these. Some people say okay only 500 feet from a school. But I know the sort of density in my district is different from 500 feet in Granada Hills, not that that's Greig Smith's opinion. I'm just picking a neighborhood.”

Garcetti continued: “So people say, okay, let's do every 1,000 feet. I think that's way too close to have these dispensaries every 1,000 feet. It's not like there's a hospital every 1,000 feet.  I believe in access. I believe people–our friends, our neighbords, our family members–who suffer from these diseases should be able to have access. But, a) I want to make sure it's legitimate, that doctors are giving real prescriptions. I mean, that's where the state/medical side of things needs to be much more aggressive. But, secondly, I don't see that most of the people who need medical marijuana can't get on a bus or get can't in a car. So, for me, I'd like to see much bigger spaces.”

But Garcetti has been increasingly backing away from that position in recent weeks.

Yesterday at City Council, Garcetti said, “I don't think we want to see mega-dispensaries in

just some parts of the city. I also don't think we

want to see people who are sick have to drive miles to get medicine

they need.”

So much for the bus.

Part of the reason for Garcetti's apparent flip-flop may be the fact that when he was talking on November 6, he and the rest of the City Council didn't have important zoning maps at their disposal. So he was taking an initial hard-line that wasn't all that well informed.

That's not surprising. L.A. City Council members have been drafting the medical marijuana ordinance for weeks without all of the necessary information — the maps just being one thing that's been missing during the debate.

The City Council has also yet to get feedback from city agencies on a plan to enforce the ordinance the politicians may pass next year.

With the City Council now in winter recess, L.A. politicians won't tackle medical pot until mid-January.

LA Weekly