February 24, 2010

Legal Battle Heating Up Over LA Dispensary

February 24, 2010

By now I’m sure that many of you have heard about the raid, and subsequent filing of 24 felony charges, against Organica dispensary owner Jeff Joseph (see the link below if you haven’t). Just as the legal battle is heating up in Colorado over dispensaries, things appear to be on the verge of all out legal warfare down in LA. The troops are starting to line up on both sides, and no one seems to be backing off.

Now the leading medical marijuana organization ‘Americans for Safe Access’ (ASA) is joining the fight, stating that they will join the lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County if charges are not dropped. ASA’s lawyer, Joseph D. Elford, sent letters to LA City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley earlier this week. “We want to let Trutanich and Cooley know we’re not just going to sit this one out,” he said.

The City Attorney’s office fired back. “I’ve read their press release, and I am not impressed,” said William Carter, the Chief Deputy City Attorney of Los Angeles. “We obviously don’t agree with their position. We are enforcing the existing local and state laws just as we’ve been doing for a long time.”
Carter claims that the city will win their case, because he has already won an injunction barring another dispensary from selling marijuana in a similar case. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich sued Hemp Factory V, an Eagle Rock dispensary, and won. ASA lawyer Elford said he learned about the Eagle Rock case too late to represent the defendant, otherwise the injunction would have never been ordered.

What really pisses me off is that the authorities tried to get the LA city council to ban sales completely when they drafted the recent ordinance, but they were denied. So rather than accept the Democratic Process and take the partial victory (dispensaries were reduced by over 90%), they decided to go on a political/personal crusade to impose their beliefs on the LA metro area.

There is an initiative ready to go on the November ballot, Tom Ammiano re-introduced his legalization bill in the legislative process, and now there is this case going on in the case law arena. What a wild time to be a marijuana consumer in California! People have to realize that there are two legal battles going on in LA. One is in the criminal trial area of law against the dispensary owner, and the other is a civil lawsuit against the authorities. I predict that the ‘A Holes’ at the county and city attorney’s office will win at the criminal trial level due to a biased magistrate. However, when this goes to the Circuit Court of Appeals, all charges will be dropped. Will it make it to the Supreme Court? Only time will tell. I hope it stalls until another liberal Justice gets on the Court though, because the conservatives that are on there now will not be favorable to cases like this.

As for the civil lawsuit, I hope that ASA joins the fight, along with every other pro-marijuana organization. Where is NORML or LEAP? All of these organizations need to stand up, because it will affect all of us. I don’t think that people should be making the profit margins that this dispensary owner in LA was making off of medical patients. However, I think that if authorities are victorious in this case, they will stop at nothing to go after everyone involved in the industry. Not just in Los Angeles, not just in California, but nationwide. There are a lot of states looking into starting dispensary systems, so there could be a lot of future ramifications.



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