UCLA Study Says Only 472 Dispensaries In L.A., Half Of City Hall Estimate
Joe | Sep 11, 2012 | Comments 0
As the total ban on medical marijuana dispensaries approved in July by the Los Angeles City Council remains under temporary suspension, a new study out of UCLA suggests that the council has been exaggerating the number of dispensaries the city actually contains.
Bridget Freisthler, associate professor of social welfare at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, found there were 472 medical marijuana dispensaries in business as of Tuesday (Sept. 4). City officials have regularly estimated the number of dispensaries at around 1,000.
Freisthler said it didn’t surprise her that the number of open dispensaries was lower than the estimated number often cited by city officials.
“I thought there would be around 550,” she said. [The 472 number is] a little lower than what I thought.”
I’ve been really hard on the L.A. City Council as of late for being too lazy to put some effort into properly regulating dispensaries in the city. But maybe it goes beyond laziness; maybe they are simply incapable of finding out even how many dispensaries there are. If this is the case, some major changes are needed at City Hall, beyond cleaning house of elected officials. There maybe something systemically wrong in the city’s government.
Yet UCLA seems to be able to find the dispensaries. Of course, city officials are not buying the figure. The city recently sent out over 1,000 letters to people warning them that the ban was coming, and Assistant City Attorney Asha Greenberg says that they sent letters to everyone who contacted the city about registering a medical marijuana dispensary; she says some of these people might not be operating actual brick-and-mortar dispensaries yet.
But city councilman Jose Huizar, proponent of the full ban, had his spokesman Rick Coca question the veracity of the numbers, saying he is perplexed as to how UCLA researchers ”checked on all the dispensaries that are not on the City’s radar.”
“Not on the city’s radar.” Is this how Los Angeles city government is run? Officials just really aren’t aware of the numbers of businesses in their jurisdiction or where they are? If that’s the case, where did all those letters go?
It’s very easy for an observer of the city government in Los Angeles to get the impression no one knows what is going on and many are just scrambling around in an effort to look important and look like they are doing something. This is not a phenomenon exclusive to Los Angeles, but in a city that big, ignorance can quickly lead to poor decisions and poor policy, which can quickly lead to economic destruction.