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Feature: Los Angeles Marijuana Dispensary Ordinance Battle Continues

The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday voted to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to continue to sell their products, but failed to reach a final vote on a medical marijuana ordinance that has been years in the works. The council will return to the ordinance at its December 2 meeting.
medical marijuana dispensary, Ventura Blvd., LA (courtesy
Observers had hoped the council might pass the ordinance Tuesday, but progress was derailed by contentious debate over the sales issue. LA City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and LA County District Attorney Steve Cooley had called for an outright ban on medical marijuana sales, saying that under their reading of the state's medical marijuana laws and court decisions, sales are not allowed. Cooley has threatened to prosecute dispensaries no matter what the city council does.

Council members, caught between fear of legal problems for the city and the expressed desire of constituents for safe access to medical marijuana, had some harsh words for prosecutors. Councilmen Ed Reyes, who has been the principal in trying to write the ordinance, protested that the City Attorney's Office was trying to impose "a political view that has nothing to do with objective advice."

He wasn't the only one. "I think we're getting advice from one direction," said Councilman Paul Koretz. "I would like to see the City Attorney work with us to help us get to where we want to be."

In the end, the council rejected the advice of the prosecutors, instead adopting an amendment that would allow for "cash contributions, reimbursements and payments for actual expenses of growth, cultivation, and provision [...] in accordance with state law."

"We have some very elegant and flexible language that will adjust as state law is defined," said Council President Eric Garcetti.

While the council did not succeed in passing the ordinance, it did make substantial progress. In the seven-hour-long session, it dealt with more than 50 proposed changes to the ordinance. Among other amendments considered was one by council members Koretz and Reyes that would have required police to get a court order to review dispensary records. After Councilman Jose Huizar and other members objected, saying the amendment would hamper efforts to weed out "bad" dispensaries, the amendment failed.

Reyes introduced an amendment eliminating the ordinance's requirement that dispensaries have no more than five pounds of marijuana on hand and grow it on-site, but Huizar objected, saying it would encourage a black market and was "a dangerous path."

"I'm not advocating for the black market, gangs, cartels to take advantage of this," Reyes retorted, "but we can't choke it to the point where it does not function." Then, Reyes withdrew his amendment, asking Huizar to draft an alternative.

The council also approved an amendment limiting patients and caregivers to membership in one collective, but with a provision allowing for emergency purchases. That didn't go over well with medical marijuana advocates, who complained that it would limit access for patients.

The council also adopted a series of amendments from Councilman Koretz, based on West Hollywood's ordinance regulating dispensaries. Those amendments require dispensaries to have unarmed security guards patrolling a two-block area, to deposit cash daily, and to provide contact information to police and neighbors within 500 feet.

The council squabbled over a number of amendments that sought to micro-manage the dispensaries, ranging from a $100,000 salary cap to restrictions on doctors writing recommendations. "This industry is rife with people ripping off money from people who are seriously ill," said Councilman Ricardo Alarcon, who offered the salary cap amendment. "We ought to cap compensation because I believe it will be abused, people will be making millions.

Those amendments excited the wrath of Councilwoman Janice Hahn."We're going too far from what we need to be doing," Hahn said with some exasperation. "Now you're going after compensation, you're going after the doctors writing these notes. If you take the logic that people in compassionate professions shouldn't be making more than $100,000, we could go after every doctor in this city. This is not what we're here for, which is to regulate these dispensaries to make sure people have safe access," she said to loud cheers from the audience. "Let's stay focused."

In the end, Alarcon withdrew his amendment. City staff will instead review compensation standards for non-profit organizations and return to the issue later.

After heated debate, the council also deferred action on two contentious issues: a cap on the number of dispensaries to be allowed, and location restrictions that would bar dispensaries from operating within either 500 or 1000 feet of schools, parks, and other child-friendly locations. The council asked city officials to return next week with studies on caps and maps that would demarcate what areas within the city would be okay for dispensaries. Councilmember Reyes displayed one such map at the hearing, arguing that the location limits would dramatically restrict the areas where dispensaries could operate.

While the ordinance anticipates setting a cap on the number of dispensaries at 70, or one for every 57,000 residents, there were indications during the debate that members could go for a cap as high as 200, but even that would reduce the number of dispensaries in the city by 80%.

"We're fairly pleased by the progress that has occurred in the council over the past week or so, and we're certainly pleased the city decided to allow sales of medical marijuana," said Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the nation's largest medical marijuana advocacy group. "We are concerned that any limit on dispensaries not be an arbitrary cap, and that the council decide on based on what patients need and where they need it."

ASA's Hermes said there was still work to be done, especially on the issue of a cap on the number of dispensaries. "There are a few more days left yet to lobby the council and urge them to move ahead cautiously in the area of capping or limiting the number of dispensaries," he said. "If the demand is there, there should be sufficient facilities to meet that demand. Unfortunately, I don't think that's the way the council's going."

There are currently an estimated one thousand dispensaries in Los Angeles. There were four when the council began working on an ordinance way back in 2005. There were 186 when the council voted to institute a moratorium two years later.

The City Council will return to the medical marijuana ordinance at its December 2 meeting.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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The LA City Council members actions prove each are CRIMINALS,
are INSANE & are delusional.

Currently there are 1000 dispensaries functioning in LA & the COUNCIL intends to lower the amount to 200 (or even 70)!

IFF the numbers are believed - each dispensary currently services 57 patients & when the new guidelines are enforced then each dispensary will be forced to service 285. The is increase of 5-fold.

I am confident that NOT many of the dispensaries are set up to handle a 5-fold increase. By limiting the amount of medicine on the premises to 5 lbs. this places an undue burden on the customers & the operators - as the volume dispensed will outstrip the supply routinely!

THIS IS CRIMINAL ACT & each Council member is liability for their

WHAT BUSINESS DOES THE LA COUNCIL have to regulate commerce?

How is making a profit harm LA?

Does the CITY regulate how many doctors, hospitals or drug stores exist?




People vs. Jackson, roadmap to a profitable MMJ storefront...

Clear your mind, forget what you have been force fed by the prohibitionists, even the pro-MMJ'er... Medical Marijuana Sales FOR PROFIT is legal, says jurors from the December 01, 2009,first ever, MMJ collective/cooperative trial.

The People vs. Jackson verdict proves that due to the "medical marijuana affirmative defense", a jury cannot convict anyone of "selling for profit" because "selling for profit" is not strictly forbidden in the referenced law that allows for an affirmative defense.

Therefore, if a jury can not find the defendant guilty BEYOND a reasonable doubt, the defendant must be found innocent based on our justice system. As was made clear with the Jackson case...

The jury was a bit more specific than the media has reported... The media just loves Bonnie and they hate the idea of sales, however subsequent to the Jackson case, SALES ARE LEGAL.

Jurors said regarding collectives & cooperatives, "...the prosecution gave his kind of narrow definition during the closing arguments but there was nothing in the law that really backed that up..."

...other jurors said...

"...when you have an issue of doubt, the law shows that the benefit of that doubt NEEDS to go to the defendant..." and went on to say "...we had no evidence on the table that there could not be a profit in a cooperative..."


See all Jovan Jackson articles on the Bonnie D.A.' Mantis Blog (aka. The S.E.P.T.I.C. System)


Dosage Regulation Utensils Relevant

Assuming there will be a period of limitations on supply, users must adjust by using a vaporizer or, if they must use a smoking utensil, a very narrow one for 25-mg. servings (which can be used to vaporize a large percent of the herb before setting it on fire-- just hold the heatsource far enough away for the first at-least ten seconds).

In 5 pounds of herb (see wikiHow article on How to Sift Herbs for Smoking Use) are some 1400-1500 single tokes (25-mg.) or about 5 tokes a day per any one of 285 clients. My contention is, handled effectively, 5 tokes a day will probably suffice for many who until now have believed in hot-burning-overdose $pliff legends (actually a free propaganda assist for the $igarette industry). On the other hand, once we have our (single-toke) act together, an impression will be made that leads to raising the supply limit anyway.

Math is relevant too

Who are you and where did you learn math? It is obvious from your commentary that you have not spent much time with a vaporizor either..."just hold the heatsource far enough away for the first at-least ten seconds"...yeah, its just that easy - please!

As for the math - there are 1000 milligrams in one gram. 25mg tokes would be ridiculously small - there would be 40 of them in a 1 gram nugget...Can you imagine trying to break a 1 gram nugget into 40 pieces to smoke or vaporize - laughable...

Moreover, as most tokers know, there are about 453 grams in a pound of weed. At 40 tokes per gram, there are about 18,000 of your so-called 25mg tokes per pound of weed, or equivalently, 90,000 tokes in 5 pounds. With your silly math, one could service several thousand patients with a single pound of weed...laughable.

And where do you get this 5 toke a day number...that is indeed a pretty bold contention you make...Are you a doctor? Do you have studies showing that patients need only consume 0.125 grams per day to treat their medical condition(s)?

please clarify

math not myth

1. The suggestions for distancing the heat source apply not to ($600) vaporizer but to a long-stemmed screened one-hitter, using the "semi-vaporizor" technique.

2. 25-mg. servings work on the basis that you suck slow, burn low, get more THC less CO. I routinely get 40 or more per gram. This is what expressions like "one-toke herb" mean. There is an article on wikiHow, entitled "How to Sift Herbs for Smoking Use" outlining use of 8-, 16- and 30-mesh sifters to get a fine, even particle size which works best in a screened narrow crater.

3. It is true you get better economy, that's the point.

4. 5 tokes a day, based on personal experience, is enough if you (a) upgrade to a vitamin-non-wasteful utensil and (b) after each toke breathe 30 intense W's in and out of a warm wet airbonnet (1-liter plastic or paper sack).

Trutanich has met his legal match in People vs. Jackson

LA's Trutanich and the rest of the California Prohibition Clan have been taking notes and direction from San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. I'm happy to report, although the mainstream media is not, that we have given Dumanis, Trutanich and the rest of the prohibitionists’ two black eyes, a bloody lip and we have them on the run in the People v. Jackson verdict on 12/01/09.

However, despite the historic verdict, the civil rights violations of a US Navy war veteran and the loud message from the jury in the People v. Jackson, the media is still supporting Bonnie Dumanis. . .

See more Jackson verdict articles here...

Verdict is in, “Bonnie Dumanis violates Jovan Jackson’s civil rights”, court says;

Videos of the Jovan Jackson verdict provided by San Diego ASA;

Dumanis interviewed after Jackson verdict, “For Profit” MMJ sales now legal, read more here;

San Diego Courts find Bonnie Dumanis “unstable”;



See all Jovan Jackson articles on the Bonnie D.A.' Mantis Blog (aka. The S.E.P.T.I.C. System)


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