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City Council Finalizes Repeal of Ban on Medical Marijuana Storefronts

Tuesday’s vote is a formality that concludes the Council’s decision a week ago to overturn its “Gentle Ban” ordinance.

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday for the second time in a week to repeal its ban on medical marijuana storefronts, ending any uncertainty that the lack of unanimity in last week’s vote might change the Council’s decision on the issue.

Without any discussion, the Council voted 11-1 in a so-called “second reading” vote to overturn a “Gentle Ban” ordinance it had introduced in July to outlaw the sale of medical marijuana in storefronts—without preventing cannabis patients from cultivating their own marijuana in collectives of three or less individuals.

The only dissenting vote came from Council member Joe Buscaino, who had voted against repealing the ban last week as well, along with Council member José Huizar. (Last Tuesday's 11-2 vote forced it into a "second reading," which requires only eight votes for the issue to be settled.)

Huizar, one of the key architects of the Gentle Ban ordinance, was absent during the Oct. 9 vote, according to Rick Coca, the communications director for his office. Council members Bernard Parks and Jan Perry were also reportedly absent.

In a statement issued by his office, Huizar reiterated that medical marijuana storefronts are illegal under state law and that “nothing the City Council did” about the issue changes that reality.

“At this point, I’m more concerned with enforcement on illegal, for-profit dispensaries, which the federal government is currently engaged in,” Huizar said, referring to lawsuits that federal prosecutors filed against three Eagle Rock-based pot clinics on Sept. 25—part of a wider enforcement action against 70 other cannabis storefronts in the city. The federal crackdown came about a week after marijuana advocates submitted enough signatures in a petition to force a referendum on the city's ban on such businesses.

“While I support the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the state needs to create a better way of providing access for seriously ill patients while removing the scores of profiteers and recreational users who currently dominate the market,” Huizar said, adding that he was encouraged by the unanimous support for a resolution that he helped introduce in the Council last week, urging the state legislature to streamline state law regarding the cultivation and distribution of marijuana.

The council's vote came the same day Council member Bill Rosendahl, who has been using marijuana as he battles cancer, disseminated a letter informing constituents that he would not seek a third term on the City Council.

Rosendahl attacked President Barack Obama's decision last year to start going after medical marijuana dispensaries.

Marijuana advocates hailed Tuesday’s widely expected decision by the City Council, saying it would allow safe access for critically ill cancer, AIDS and other sick patients.

“The will of this Council, evident by the ban's repeal, is for limited, safe access within our city,'' said Yami Bolanos, president of the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance. “We call upon the federal government to respect their position—we urge them to immediately cease and desist from the threats and intimidation tactics directed at Los Angeles operators and their landlords.''

A plan by Council member Paul Koretz that would allow the operation of about 125 dispensaries that were open before Sept. 14, 2007, when the city placed a moratorium on new dispensaries, is expected to come before the City Council in early November. The plan would place strict regulations on dispensaries regarding location, hours of operation and required security.

—City News Service contributed to this article.

John October 09, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Huizar is a smart guy. I wish he would use his legal skills to enhance free enterprise, free markets, competition, and really support safe access for everyone, not just those he thinks need it. I ask that the council include the chart below in any future ordinances regarding medical marijuana, and in any future correspondence or legal interaction with the courts. I also ask the city to require the federal government to allow the chart below to be admitted as evidence in any legal proceedings regarding medical marijuana dispensaries. drugwarfacts.org Cause of Deaths in 2010: Tobacco 435,000 Poor Diet and Physical Inactivity 365,000 Alcohol 85,000 Microbial Agents 75,000 Toxic Agents 55,000 Motor Vehicle Crashes 26,347 Adverse Reactions to Prescription Drugs 32,000 Suicide 30,622 Incidents Involving Firearms 29,000 Homicide 20,308 Sexual Behaviors 20,000 All Illicit Drug Use, Direct and Indirect 17,000 Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Such As Aspirin 7,600 Marijuana 0
Cerro Gordo October 09, 2012 at 11:09 PM
I still don't understand. The headline says "City Council Finalizes Ban on Medical Marijuana Storefronts", but I'm reading the article like a ban was repealed. Sorry to sound stupid here, but I guess I need to brush up on my reading comprehension skills. Are they getting shut down or not?
Arin Mikailian (Editor) October 09, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Hi, Cerro: There was a typo in the headline but it's been fixed.
Henry Kasier III October 09, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Huizar is obviously a sore loser. The whole group appears un-interested when people testify, & Huizar has his own horn to toot it seems. All of them have wasted years doing nothing, come to think of it, that is what the LA City Counsel is all about. In fact, last year they all had brain scans because of possible indoor pollution issue, the brain scan of Mayor Villagrosa, as well as the City COunsel, revealed "nothing"....hmm very telling & accurate
Ajay Singh (Editor) October 09, 2012 at 11:54 PM
What? No deaths from bacteria? (We share 70 percent of the DNA, btw.)
bbkong October 10, 2012 at 12:07 AM
I don't understand why one of the networks hasn't picked up on this comedy of grown men wasting their time trying to delineate the who what when and where of a weed that has grown in abundance in this part of the world without interruption since the Aztecs owned it. Maybe because of the shame over the number of people imprisoned or murdered and families shattered over a stupid plant? Could be. And the comedy continues...
John October 10, 2012 at 12:24 AM
I forget the difference between microbes and bacteria, but I think that's included in "microbial agents," as are viruses. Incidentally, stomach cancers have often been found to be driven by viruses, as opposed to diet or genetics. Viruses are still much harder to treat than bacterial infections, because they infiltrate cells, whereas bacteria overwhelm the immune system.
wendie ballonoff October 10, 2012 at 01:14 AM
We the people voted to legalize it. but I guess our votes dont matter. personally it makes it really hard to convince our younger generation to vote when they see that our votes dont mean a thing
Jake Mendinhas October 10, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Does anyone know if they closed any dispensaries in Eagle Rock like Organic Health Center? The government should really be focusing on something far more serious like the way the oil companies are raping consumers with highly inflated gas prices.
Buds Roses October 10, 2012 at 03:15 AM
We are so happy the council made the right decision. Now they need to take regulations seriously and work with collectives to pass an ordinance, immediately. The council needs to also STOP allowing the cities funds to pay the DEA to come here and terrorize patients, collective operators and other citizens of our community. We do not need federal "stormtroopers" kicking in doors, taking people's medicine and arresting people. We are working with the city and hope they support our limited immunity ordinance which allows the oldest and most reputable, 100 or so, collectives to remain open. If not, we will take it to the VOTE in May!
AFG October 10, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Is the DEA being paid with city funds? Why? They already have their federal paychecks.
Buds Roses October 10, 2012 at 05:29 AM
The council instructed the LAPD to work with the DEA regarding enforcement. This cost the taxpayers a lot of money. The DEA makes most of its money by asset forfeiture. No arrest or charge is neccessary. Below is a recent link the city council approving CRA (community redevelopment) funds to be used for enforcing the "gentle ban". http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2008/08-0923-S18_MOT_08-22-12.pdf So now that their is no ban, did the city spend the CRA money, talking and planning enforcement... Which has now been repealed..
FlyingTooLow October 10, 2012 at 02:33 PM
If marijuana were treated like lettuce and tomatoes, this would end. After all, it is plant. Take the government out of the equation. It does not belong. I spent 5 years in Federal Prison for a marijuana offense. I wrote about the great times I had before my arrest...living free, smuggling marijuana, and harming no one. My book: Shoulda Robbed a Bank I would be honored by your review.
FlyingTooLow October 10, 2012 at 02:37 PM
The FDA and the DEA are the last to be trusted. Are they not the entities that approved the 'prescription medicines' being sold today? Why are they and 'big pharma' not being prosecuted? In 2009, 26,000 deaths from prescription medicines. Deaths caused by marijuana...not a single one in recorded history. Several years ago, I had surgery on my right shoulder. Pain medication was prescribed..."take one capsule every 4 hours." I took one capsule. I was down for over 20 hours. When I came to, I felt like I had been hit by a truck. The next time I felt discomfort, I smoked a small amount of marijuana ...pain gone, no after effects. I threw the pills out. Then I wrote: Shoulda Robbed a Bank My contribution to helping point out just how ludicrous our pot laws truly are. I would be honored by your review.
sila October 10, 2012 at 04:22 PM
I'm feeling very hopeful reading these comments! :D its usually so negative when talking about mj around here. But we DO need regulations for the dispensaries. Most don't flush their product, and leaving fertilizer in the buds causes cancer. If your ashes aren't WHITE, you need to find a cleaner dispensary. I think we deserve good quality, not the equivalent to backwoods distillery moonshine. Also, stoners need to work on public relations. Let's get together and go pick up litter around eagle rock! Stoners CAN do good in the community too. Im a stoner, and I care VERY MUCH about keeping our communities clean and safe.
Erykah Grande October 10, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Science Rocks! :D Speaking of Bacteria, how about them Anti-Bacterial soaps. Geez! Talk about making the immune system weak.
Erykah Grande October 10, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Sila, I agree with you entirely in that this particular forum is pretty mature and working together. I like that. It's what should happen. Perhaps go as far as educating all patients in the harm caused by pesticides and the difference between THC and CBD, please! People on both ends of the spectrum are so misinformed. I know patients who think they're medicating for pain relief but are ingesting herbs not tested and studied for CBD content! Educating both Patients and Non-Patients may go a long way. After all, man (and woman) only fear the unknown.
Bobbi Snow October 10, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Good list, John... More people can use MMJ without side affects than any chemical-based manufactured drug ever sold, including aspirin.
Bobbi Snow October 10, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Good list, John. More people benefit from the alternative use of MMJ than they do from any other manufactured drug ever put on the market, including aspirin.
NoHoAdjacent October 10, 2012 at 06:59 PM
The headline says "City Council Finalizes Repeal of Ban on Medical Marijuana Storefronts" Repeal being the operative.
Scott Zwartz October 12, 2012 at 12:26 AM
for those who think that teh City council should ban Pot Clinics, then ban abortion clinics. If women are too dumb to decide whether to take pot for cancern or just stress release, then they're too dumb to decide to have an abortion. While we're deciding what a doctor may prescibe and a patient may do, let's just kill off the entire Right to Privacy and let the government dictates everything in our lives. Thank heavens that once in every 7 years, the city council does something right. No bans on Pot Shop and no bans on abortiion clinics.
John October 12, 2012 at 05:37 PM
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/10/oakland-sues-us-to-stop-medical-marijuana-seizures.html The city of Oakland filed suit Wednesday against top federal prosecutors in an attempt to stop them from seizing property leased by the nation’s largest medical marijuana dispensary. The suit comes as federal prosecutors have ramped up efforts to shutter dispensaries statewide, targeting those close to schools as well as operations such as Harborside, which are in compliance with local and state laws but that prosecutors have deemed "superstores." Launched in 2006, Harborside now counts 108,000 patients in its collective and paid $3.5 million in taxes last year, $1.1 million of that to Oakland. Co-founder Steve DeAngelo worked closely with Oakland officials as they crafted one of the nation's strictest regulatory schemes to monitor and tax the industry. San Francisco attorney Cedric Chao, who is representing Oakland, said in a statement Wednesday that the federal government "acted beyond its authority" by filing the forfeiture action outside the statute of limitations. He added that the government has indicated for many years "by its words and actions that so long as dispensaries and medical patients acted consistently with state law, the dispensaries would be allowed to operate. Oakland has reasonably relied on these assurances."

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