The Mess The City Of Los Angeles Is Making Of Medical Marijuana
Joe | Aug 08, 2012 | Comments 1
Regular readers of The 420 Times know of series of council votes and court rulings that have made medical marijuana in Los Angeles a complicated morass of conflicting rules, especially over the last 5 years.
What it all comes down to is a simple case of over-thinking something. This stems from treating medical marijuana like anything but what it is: medicine.
I’m sure the city of Los Angeles has a set of clear regulations that govern pharmacies. That’s because pharmacies sell what most consider dangerous drugs. While marijuana is non-toxic, not everyone agrees that it is not dangerous, so it seems like an easy compromise to regulate dispensaries like pharmacies.
Obviously having zero dispensaries is not tenable, and picking an arbitrary number is inefficient at best. Why not just have a set of rules and regulations governing dispensaries and let the market decide what the right number is. Maybe it’s 200, maybe it’s 800. But even if it’s 8,000, if they are properly regulated and making enough money to stay open, who cares?
Marijuana is not some mythical substance that cannot be treated like anything else in the world. Medically and recreational they are numerous substances that can give us guidance. Everything from alcohol to fast food has regulations, and yet a group of supposedly bright politicians can’t figure something out?
As is the case with many bright people, over-thinking leads to indecision and finally an attitude that says, “I’m tired of thinking about this, just get rid of it all.” Is that any way to run a city?
These decisions affect hundreds of thousands of patients and thousands of jobs, yet the L.A. City Council can’t figure it out. Over 5 years of stagnation and flip-flopping back and forth, and for what? To just say that no dispensaries are allowed, go grow some medicine, good luck?
We asked the folks at Americans For Safe Access their thoughts on the situation in L.A. Kris Hermes, Media Specialist for ASA told us of a “model” ordinance, which can be found here. “A similar ordinance will be voted on in Imperial Beach this November,” he said.
Kris also told us of an old L.A. County ordinance. “The L.A. City Council need not look very far for helpful examples of how to regulate medical marijuana distribution,” he said. “Before the L.A. County Board of Supervisors rescinded its ordinance last year, the county had one of the more progressive ordinances in the state.”
Within the rescinded ordinance itself is section 4, which said:
“A. Purpose. This section is established to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in a manner that is safe, that mitigates potential impacts dispensaries may have on surrounding properties and persons, and that is in conformance with the provisions of California Health and Safety Code section 11362.5 through section 11362.83, inclusive, commonly referred to as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and the Medical Marijuana Program.
“B. Conditional use permit required. The establishment and operation of any medical marijuana dispensary requires a conditional use permit in compliance with the requirements of this section.”
The ordinance even had a warning about federal laws, saying:
“Disclaimer. A warning and disclaimer shall be put on medical marijuana zoning application forms and shall include the following:
“a. A warning that dispensary operators and their employees may be subject to prosecution under federal marijuana laws; and
“b. A disclaimer that the county will not accept any legal liability in connection with any approval and/or subsequent operation of a dispensary.”
Furthermore the ordinance contains multiple regulations, including limits on what hours a dispensary could be open and a rule that prohibited loitering around the location. Aren’t these among the supposed “complaints” from citizens about dispensaries? There were even rules covering lighting, graffiti, litter, on-site-consumption, security, cultivation and more.
Why are these precedents rejected by the council in favor of a total ban? Why does the council have to consider a proposal to allow some dispensaries, but a total ban passes 14-0? Does the propaganda about medical marijuana dispensaries infect these officials that much?
“Given the imminent campaign to overturn the recend dispensary ban passed by the city,” Kris told us, ” [the] Council should focus on drafting another, more reasonable ordinance so that tens of thousands of area patients are not forced into the illicit market, thereby complicating the job of law enforcement.”
Hopefully that is what the council does. No matter how many false starts you have or wrong directions you take in life, there is always an opportunity to change course and put things on the right path. That is where the L.A. City Council stands right now. Will they continue down the wrong road, the road that hurts patients and the city’s economy?