Pro-Medical Marijuana Group Sues City Over Pot-Shop Law

A pro-medical-marijuana group filed a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles that claims its recently passed marijuana dispensary law unfairly infringes on the due process of those pot shops that would have to close under the rule.

L.A.'s law, which amazingly is not officially on the books until the Los Angeles City Council takes another vote on new fees for pot shops, would close down most such retailers because it requires a 1,000-foot buffer zone between them and schools, churches, parks and other "sensitive use" locations. Shops would be given seven days to move.

"The requirement to find a new location within 7 days is completely unreasonable and undermines the due process of otherwise legal medical marijuana dispensaries," stated Joe Elford, chief counsel of Americans for Safe Access, the group that filed suit.

Plaintiffs, including Venice Beach Care Center and PureLife Alternative Wellness Center, state that it would also be impossible to comply with the law without city-issued maps indicated where these sensitive use areas are.

"We want to work with the city to comply with its regulations, but such unreasonable requirements make compliance impossible," stated Yamileth Bolanos of PureLife Alternative Wellness Center. "We are more than willing to negotiate a compromise that would cut short costly litigation."

City Attorney's spokesman Frank Meteljian told LA Weekly his office hasn't seen the suit yet, but that "we're ready to defend the city ordinance whenever necessary."

He noted that the ordinance has yet to take effect because the City Council has yet to approve a fee schedule that would then start a 30-day clock for the law to kick in. (We ribbed the City Council about its foot-dragging ways on the matter in late 2009, wondering aloud if the body would ever get a rule in place before the new year. It's March).


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