Two Los Angeles City Council members are facing off with competing proposals to "ban" medical marijuana dispensaries.
Councilman Jose Huizar proposes a complete ban on all dispensaries.
Councilman Paul Koretz proposes a ban on all but about 100 dispensaries. Both members call their bans a "gentle ban."
Both councilmen say that the city has been unable to enforce its 2010 medical marijuana ordinance, which mandates dispensaries to close at a certain time, have on-site security, not advertise, not be next to a school or residential zone and more. In fact, rather than getting compliance from dispensaries, the city currently faces at least fifty active lawsuits by dispensaries for actions the city has taken to regulate them.
Councilman Huizar's director of communications, Rick Coca, said to The Huffington Post that the "cleanest and easiest way" to handle this problem is to ban all dispensaries until the California Supreme Court rules on the legality of the city's 2010 ordinance. Under Huizar's proposal, medical marijuana patients would still be able to grow their own pot or have a caregiver grow it. "There are a couple opportunities to get marijuana under our proposal," Coca said. "There's just no opportunity to make money."
However, Councilman Koretz wrote to HuffPost about Huizar's plan, "They might call it a gentle ban, but I call it a vicious, heartless ban. A lot of the people who need this drug the most wouldn't know (how) or be able to grow it themselves. For them, it is critical they have a place to go to get the medical marijuana."
Koretz's planning deputy, Chris Koontz, said that there are dispensaries that have been in compliance since 2005 and that those dispensaries deserve to stay open. Therefore, Koretz proposes banning all dispensaries except those that have been in compliance all along, which includes about 100 dispensaries.
In a conversation with HuffPost in November, when Huizar introduced his motion, the council member pointed to a recent District Court of Appeals ruling that deemed Long Beach's marijuana dispensary ordinance invalid because federal law considers cannabis an illegal drug. Huizar said, "Because Long Beach's ordinance is very similar to LA's ordinance, the Long Beach ruling deems our ordinance unenforceable."
In response to this federal-state law contradiction, three state congressmen introduced a bipartisan proposal last week to eliminate funding for federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in states where they're legal. The measure was in response to the Obama administration's more than 100 raids, mostly on California dispensaries, many of which were operating in compliance with state laws. The proposal failed in the House.
President Obama recently told Rolling Stone, "I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana -- and the reason is, because it's against federal law."
Huizar and Koretz's proposed bans have been sent back to committee. Both members hope to have their proposals voted on by council in a few weeks. If either motion passes, it will go into effect 28 days after the vote.
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