March 15, 2010

LA Dispensary Owners Don’t Get Enough Signatures

March 15, 2010

It’s a sad day for medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles. A group of medical marijuana collectives, led by Daniel Halbert of the Rainforest Collective in Mar Vista, are going to fall short of the 27,425 signatures it would take to overturn a recently drafted ordinance. The ordinance will significantly reduce the amount of dispensaries allowed in LA. The group had by the end of the day to get the signatures, however, they only have around 15,000 collected.

“If we had a total of 30 days, we would have achieved our goal. This is a very popular issue, but the city purposely delayed the approval of our petitions and ate up 10 of our days,” Halbert said. When asked what was next for the group, Mr. Halbert said they are looking into possible litigation. “The United States is all about free markets, and there should be as many collectives as patients need.”

The ordinance requires that dispensaries be at least 1,000 feet away from schools, public parks, and other specified areas. It also bans collectives from being “on a lot abutting, across the street or alley from, or having a common corner with a residentially zoned lot or a lot improved with residential use.”

Councilman Ed Reyes defended the ordinance by stating, “The goal has been, and continues to be, to adopt a final ordinance that protects our communities and at the same time recognizes the rights of those who require access to marijuana dispensaries for medical purposes. The collective fees detailed in the report are reasonable and get us closer to that goal.”

Another lawsuit was filed by Americans for Safe Access earlier this month over the same proposed ordinance. “What our lawsuit is about is giving these facilities that are registered with the city due process to be able to either relocate or remain where they are if they’re not a disturbance to people in the community,” said an ASA spokesperson. “The second thing is to relax the buffer zone — the restrictions on where dispensaries can be located in the city,” he said. “It’s far too restrictive and relegates these facilities out to the very remote areas of the city, mostly in industrial zones. We would much rather have patient demand drive the supply and the number of facilities that exist.”

Hopefully one of these lawsuits results in a constructive conversation in Los Angeles. Because it was the first dispensary ordinance drafted for a large metro area, the current proposal is littered with problems. The city needs to step back for a moment, and look at ordinances that have been drafted in other areas in the last two months. It was like the city panicked, came up with the first draft they could think of, and then have been fighting like hell ever since to protect it in its rawest form. The city needs to go back to the drawing table, consider other options, and put together something that is more fair to the patients (and dispensary owners) in LA.


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