City officials are waiting to see whether hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles will comply with orders to shut down.
Monday is the city attorney's office's deadline for more than 430 marijuana collectives to close, or face possible civil fines or criminal charges. A new city ordinance limits the number and locations of medical marijuana dispensaries allowed to operate in Los Angeles. Those that registered with the city before a 2007 moratorium may be able to remain in business, but they can't be near schools, libraries, parks and other sensitive areas.
Asha Greenberg, assistant city attorney, says L.A.'s new ordinance makes it a misdemeanor to run a dispensary without city approval. "Anyone who is operating a medical marijuana establishment, who is violating the city's ordinance is subject to arrest." Under the new ordinance, those who illegally sell medical marijuana in Los Angeles could face daily fines, a $1,000 penalty and six months in jail.
Dispensary owners and patients have filed more than 20 lawsuits against the city, arguing that the ordinance is unconstitutional because it prohibits access to their medicine. So far, their attempts at temporary restraining orders have been turned down in court.
"It's like treating us like drug dealers," says Darcy Hughes, who used to manage the dispensary B Green. "It's not right."
B Green closed because of the new law. Hughes agrees that there were far too many unregulated dispensaries in Los Angeles, but she and her patients don't know where they'll get their medicine.
"I think the city is a little embarrassed about what happened," Hughes adds. "This is what they're trying to do to fix the situation. I think they got a little harsh. Unfortunately, I'll see a rise in street [sales] - back to the way it was before the dispensaries."
Don't let this mass-closure of dispensaries discourage you though, because this all has to do with regulation and not the approval or disapproval of marijuana. I think it's good the California government is attempting serious regulation of cannabis because I think we all can collectively agree that, no matter when it happens, California will be the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. That being said, this is far from over. If you think over 400 business owners are just going to roll over and close shop without any resistance you are mistaken! These people are so passionate about marijuana and the good it does for people they serve that they will most certainly go down fighting; and fighting hard. This will be an ongoing issue and we here at The Weed Blog will keep you up to date on the inevitable litigation that will follow.