Marijuana dispensaries were scheduled to be banned in Los Angeles. Ever since medical marijuana was made legal in California, Los Angeles has been one of the primary places where dispensaries and cultivators have formed and done business.
In the first few years there were only a few hundred dispensaries that opened up but in recent years those numbers have ballooned to 1,000+ dispensaries in LA. According to many authorities there have many legal and logistical issues that come with having so many dispensaries in operation. NPR spoke to a LA councilman about the issue:
City officials tried to get a handle on the proliferation, with endless meetings, community hearings, police raids and lawsuits. Finally, the council decided “enough is enough,” says City Councilman Jose Huizar, who wrote a bill outlawing all dispensaries. The council overwhelmingly passed the ban in July. “It was getting way out of control,” Huizar says. “A thousand dispensaries? Some neighborhoods have two per block, and young people have access. They go around the corner, they smoke it. Crime increases around these dispensaries, the traffic, the robberies.” Huizar’s bill didn’t outlaw medical marijuana, but it did call for a so-called “gentle ban,” which would only allow three or fewer patients or their caregivers to grow their own.
I have heard several stories of dispensaries in Los Angeles operating illegally because the laws in Los Angeles are fairly vague and the sale of marijuana is still a federal crime. It truly became a wild, wild west situation in LA but activists in Los Angeles argue that banning all of the dispensaries is not the answer — so they decided to fight back.
Facing an outright ban on medical marijuana shops, activists, dispensary operators and the union representing pot shop workers started a campaign, collecting tens of thousands of signatures calling for a ballot measure repealing the ban. Activist Don Duncan, who heads the California chapter of Americans for Safe Access, says they had no choice because the city’s policies have never been clear. Until now, he says, police have raided clinics at random and the city council has floundered with various policies. “I look back and shake my head and think, ‘What in the world has been going on in this city since 2005?’ ” Duncan says. “We’re not saying no regulation, just a free for all — nor are we saying we’ll ban it outright. We’re going to present the people of Los Angeles with a reasonable middle,” he says.
I have been in New York for the last few days but I am looking forward to going back to Los Angeles next week and really getting involved with the fight against the medical marijuana crackdown there.
What do you guys think the result of this will be? How do you feel about the ban?
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