LA Pot Shop Ban


Moving marijuana into the “legal for some” category has spawned political problems the legalization movement would just as soon not have. The very mechanisms of public discourse and voting have generated difficulties the illegal trade never had to face.

For example, a report in the LA Times details an FBI investigation in South LA County. The allegations are that Cudahy City Hall officials accepted bribes to modify voting in a marijuana dispensary issue. The case is still under investigation, but reports are that those with business interests in having dispensaries operating in the city offered to “pay to play.” And that’s where the political battle lines are being drawn – not at the federal or state level, but in each city where marijuana is being sold.

A recent ruling by the City of Los Angeles is causing quite a stir: The City Council just banned all medical marijuana clinics/dispensaries in the city. This amounts to some 900 businesses that will be shut down. The new rules and the ban would go into effect in thirty days unless blocked by an injunction.

It’s being called a “gentle ban” because marijuana sales aren’t being forbidden, but just restricted. They did it by redefining what a “marijuana collective” was in the city. Since dispensaries operate under this definition, it affects them directly. The change makes a collective 3 or fewer people. The “fewer” means that dispensaries with clientele numbering in the dozens to hundreds will be shut out, no longer meeting the definition.

The “gentle” part comes because there is no actual ban of sales, just a limit now of sales among three or fewer people. If you grow it, you are either smoking it yourself or have a maximum of two customers/patients in your collective.

According to the LA Times, “At least 178 California cities from Calistoga to Camarillo and 20 counties already have banned retail pot shops.”

Meanwhile, advocates continue to challenge city-level ordinances that restrict access to marijuana in court, claiming cities are flagrantly trying to get around the intent of the people of California itself.

While it is not uncommon for local ordinances to be more restrictive than state law (smoking restrictions are a good example, varying by city), there are lines which cannot be crossed.

Photo by John Nyboer


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