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Community Leaders Urge City Council to Ban Marijuana Clinics

A coalition of Los Angeles neighborhood council members, community activists and residents call for repealing the city’s medical marijuana ordinance and banning medical marijuana dispensaries.

A day before the Los Angeles City Council is scheduled to consider whether to ban medical marijuana facilities, a coalition of neighborhood councils, community organizations and concerned residents appealed to Council members to support a proposal to repeal the city’s medical marijuana ordinance and ban marijuana dispensaries until the state Supreme Court decides whether cities can regulate the distribution of medical marijuana.

At a City Hall news conference on Monday, several members of the Community Rights First Coalition urged the City Council to support an alternative “gentle ban” ordinance proposed by Council members José Huizar and Mitch Englander. The ordinance, which has the support of the Los Angeles Police Department, would allow mini-collectives of three or fewer patients to grow their own marijuana at one location.

The coalition members also sought support for a motion introduced in October 2011 by Council members Bernard C. Parks and Jan Perry, which asks city officials to recommend ways to shut down some 300 medical marijuana dispensaries currently operating in Los Angeles.

“For years we’ve been trying to get some sort of regulation—some consistent action—on dealing with the proliferation of illegal marijuana clinics,” said Eric Moore, vice president of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council and the co-chair of its public safety committee.

“In my neighborhood in East Hollywood, near Edgemont and Lily Crest, by Heliotrope and Melrose, if you go three to four blocks radius around that area, where I live, there are five to nine pot clinics at any given time,” Moore said.

The East Hollywood Neighborhood Council has received multiple complaints from business owners and residents that empty storefronts are being “taken over” by marijuana dispensaries, Moore said. The dispensaries' clientele can often be seen smoking pot in the area, which discourages residents from patronizing nearby businesses, he added.

We’ve worked with the LAPD, the [federal Drug Enforcement Administration], the City Attorney’s office, the Council,” Moore said. “What consistently we’re told is that ‘We’re waiting on somebody else to say go ahead’ or that ‘There’s this law in place.’ Everybody points fingers. There’s no way to regulate.”

The proliferation of marijuana dispensaries in his neighborhood has also led to an increase in crime, Moore claimed, although “statistically that’s not necessarily showing up because people are afraid to report these sorts of things.”

Susan Blauner, director of operations for the Saving Lives San Fernando Valley Drug and Alcohol Coalition, a White House-funded nonprofit organization, said the growth of dispensaries has made marijuana much more available to youths, who smoke it on school campuses throughout the Valley.

The proliferation of medical marijuana clinics is also a concern in Boyle Heights, the home of Councilman Huizar.

“Just within the last three months, three clinics have opened in my parish,” said John Moretta, pastor of the Resurrection Church in Boyle Heights and dean of 23 parishes that represent East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights and El Sereno. (See video).

Moretta pointed to an aerial map of Boyle Heights containing six stars, each depicting a location of a medical marijuana facility. “Some of them are within the same block,” he said, adding: “Now, that’s overkill—oversaturation, wouldn’t you agree?”

Moretta appealed to the public to support the regulation of marijuana dispensaries by turning up for Tuesday’s Council meeting.

“I think it’s one of the most important decisions in the history of the City Council,” he said.

Tuesday's meeting will also decide the fate of a separate proposal by Councilman Paul Koretz, which Huizar and Englander have disapproved of. Koretz's plan calls for preventing the City from prosecuting a set of about 100 dispensaries that follow strict requirements on location, hours of operation and security.

After the news conference, members of the coalition distributed a letter to the offices of each of the 15 City Council members.

“We ask that you please put the rights of the communities and the constituents you represent over any special interest groups,” stated the five-paragraph letter. “We as a City continue to helplessly watch as hundreds upon hundreds of illegal dispensaries open up throughout the 15 council districts—shutting them down needs to be the City Council’s No. 1 priority.”

The “Repeal and Ban” proposal—as the coalition called the motions by Huizar, Englander, Parks and Perry—has been endorsed by the Eagle Rock Association, the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council, the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council, the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council and the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council.

Looming against the background of Tuesday’s City Council meeting is a July 2 decision by a three-justice panel of California's 2nd District Court of Appeal, which affirmed the legality of medical marijuana dispensaries and rejected bans on the facilities by municipalities.

Sean McCarthy July 24, 2012 at 10:00 PM
You sound like a gun nut: "Guns don't hurt people - people hurt people". When dopes pick up their dope and then sell it around the corner from the pot shop they bring down the neighborhood. Your fight is with the people who are wrecking your buzz because they are pissing off everyone who wants the shops closed.
Shawn Richardson July 24, 2012 at 10:31 PM
way to go right to the personal attacks.
jayres July 24, 2012 at 10:33 PM
According to Adam, "Marijuana is for the artists, philosophers, comedians, musicians, you know, the ones who benefit this world the most and inject it with beauty." But how does he inject beauty into his post, by slandering the religious community as pedophiles and homophobes, and he generalizes them as weak-minded and below-average intelligence. Thank you Adam for that amazing beauty that you have injected into the world today, so philosophical and with such artistry. I think you forgot to mention how tolerant you are of the opinions of others that vary from your own. Such an eloquent attempt at winning the war of ideas, not by making a strong argument or offering facts to rebut the oppposing ideas, but rather by tearing down and belittling those who disagree. Personally, I could care less about legalization or negative attacks on the religious, but your post hasn't convinced me of anything, other than you might not want to include yourself in that group of amazing idividuals you hold in such high esteem.
Adam July 24, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Jayres: Have you not seen how religions have destroyed society time and time again? I do not tolerate that which destroys humanity and nature simultaneously.
Margarito Martinez July 24, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Not wrecking my buzz, I'll just shop in nearby Glendale, or Pasadena...
jayres July 24, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Just because some have co-opted religion for nefarious purposes, doesn't mean religion should be indicted as a whole. Throughout human history, religion has played a central role in almost every society, culture or group in one form or another. So I think anthropologists would disagree with your ascertion that religion destroys.
Kathy July 24, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Medical Marijuana is a joke. Anyone with a headache from a Saturday Night alcohol hangover can claim medical distress and get MJ at their local pot shop. Seriously ill medical patients can get pain medication from legitimate doctors.
Paul B July 24, 2012 at 10:58 PM
@ jayres - It's his opinion, just like you have yours. You attacking him for his point of view does nothing except keep the cycle of viciousness alive. Everyone is entitled to their opinion no matter if we like it or not. That's why we have these dopey comment boards. :)
Paul B July 24, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Pain medication is always the answer. Not like it's addicitve or anything.
Paul B July 24, 2012 at 11:04 PM
People are going to sell drugs if they're legal or illegal. Take a look at the opiate pill problem that is rampant among, well, pretty much every race creed and color. It's kept hush hush about how many people prescription pills kill, maim and put in rehab every year because of the pharma lobby. Dont get it twisted. Where there's money to be made, someone will figure out a way to make it no matter the cost to human life, freedom or religion. GREED.
Kevin_Hunt July 24, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Kathy your argument is so "2011". Most of us in the cannabis movement have moved on to discussing full legalization. Your criticisms amount to less than a hill of beans because we are not going to return to all out prohibition. Government lies have been exposed and too many Americans realize that prohibition is a failure and marijuana doesn't cause physical addiciton, overdose deaths or liver damage. Pain medication from legitimate doctors? I suppose you are talking about the opiate based pain meds that are the #1 concern for the DEA right now because of the addiciton problems and overdose deaths. 20,000 Americans die from prescription drugs each year. I challenge you to find deaths from marijuana only overdose or marijuana only adverse reaction In case you didn't know, marijuana is the safest drug on the market. Find a better argument against it, because yours is a moot point. Perhaps we can cure these alcohol hangovers with a ban on alcohol. Sound reasonable?
Tim Ryder July 24, 2012 at 11:07 PM
So what do you care, Kathy? They're not hurting anybody and at least we're getting taxes from it now instead of being on the Black Market. Why don't you understand simple Economics? They never did anything to you. Go bother somebody else for a change.
Paul J. Wallin July 24, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Many courts of appeal in California have ruled in opposite directions on this issue. The battle now shifts to the California Supreme Court which will have to decide the issue. Courts of Appeals in different parts of California have reached entirely different results. This means that the conflict must be decided by our highest court in California. If this is not crazy enough, even if the California Supreme Court rules in favor of the medical marijuana locations, the federal government will continue to arrest people claiming that these establishments are in violation of federal law. This legal matter is highly likely to end up before the US Supreme Court who will have to make the final call. It seems insane that California can pass a law allowing for medical marijuana dispensaries and an entire city can decide to "ban them". How are those that really need marijuana to help them fight the side effects of cancer and other diseases supposed to get the marijuana legally? Are we going to require elderly people with cancer to find a way to travel to Bakersfield close to 100 miles away? I agree that these medical dispensaries need to be closely monitored so they are legitimate businesses. However, to outlaw all of them in the entire City is totally uncalled for. Wallin and Klarich Paul J. Wallin wklaw.com
jayres July 24, 2012 at 11:48 PM
LA City Council just voted to ban all medical marijuana dispenseries http://la.curbed.com/archives/2012/07/los_angeles_just_banned_all_marijuana_dispensaries_1.php http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/los-angeles-city-council-considers-ban-on-marijuana-dispensaries-amid-crime-worries/2012/07/24/gJQAXPXL7W_story.html
Paul B July 24, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Laziness and incompetence on the Councils part. It's too complicated of an issue for them so like usual, they throw the towel in and dust their hands of it. Good job L.A. City Council! We really have the right people in there to get the job done! LOL
BigB July 25, 2012 at 12:19 AM
I wish I could say I was surprised. There's just far too much money being made by everyone involved in the massively failed war on drug users. And we know how money talks in our city government. To help cheer you all up, here's "Weed Card" by Garfunkel and Oates: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRm1yqSmsGY
Shawn Richardson July 25, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Well according to the RAND study, the city council just voted to increase crime by 60% around closed dispensaries.
Shawn Richardson July 25, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Who was the lone voice of sanity?
Pat Shane July 25, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Estimates show that marijuana is America’s number one cash crop. However, marijuana remains untaxed. This is a new source of income for our nation, an income we desperately need. Over 500 of the nation’s top economic professors have shared their opinion in supporting the removing the prohibition and imposing the taxation and regulation of marijuana as a way to slow the federal deficit. Ending marijuana prohibition would save the US $7.7 BILLION annually. That is nearly as much as Congress’ proposed Budget Control Act. Think of the jobs it would create, the court time I would save and the jail space it would free up for actual criminals. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_tUy6fylQs
ezio giraldo July 25, 2012 at 12:57 AM
just read about this on another news site. i like that eagle rock was mentioned in the article. finally those shady shops are closing down.
Kevin_Hunt July 25, 2012 at 01:01 AM
What is "shady" about them?
Marcus July 25, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Well for now MMDs may have to close, but I still need more information: I would like to see someone from a MMD (not a patient) outline how their Dispensary works? 1. Can you operate without any license from the city? 2. Do you follow codes like other shops in Eagle Rock - i.e open and closing times? 3. Are there there age restrictions entering a MMD? 4. Do you pay state, federal, or city taxes? 5. Is there a distance restriction as to the location of your MMD? 6. Are employees required not to have criminal records? 7. Would you say you have MMJ that has varying strengths and effect? (for different conditions?) 8. What training do you give your security guards? Thank you for any information.
nonoise July 25, 2012 at 01:27 AM
It is true, that people hurt people, not just with guns but other weapons as well. People need to take responsibility for their actions. The liquor stores are just as bad or worse and no one stops them. Liquor stores also bring down home values but the city council offices do nothing to shut down the liquor stores. As long as the shops follow the rules no one should be angry because their rules are so much stricter than liquor store rules. When I drive by these stores I don't see anything negitative happening. If I did, I would want them shut down too.
edem July 25, 2012 at 05:26 AM
Wow, I have blisters on my fingers from scrolling! Great topic evidently. Great all of you making your voices heard! Smoke beats booze hands down. Period. I never seen an aggressive pot head. Sorry, that's how I've seen it go down. The legal issues are discussed above. Booze, well, that's not the issue here, and I won't be distracted... That's my 2 cents, for what it's worth.
Tim Ryder July 26, 2012 at 08:59 AM
Hey Marcus, why don't we hook up and we'll go together to visit a collective. I have been going into collectives for over 3 years now and they answer all my questions. The problem I have with idiots like you is that you do a lot of talking on the blogs here yet when asked to show up in person you become a yellow bellied coward. If you can't voluntarily accompany me to one of these harmless collectives here on Colorado Blvd. then indeed you are but a cowardly un-American cockroach and nothing but.
Kevin_Hunt July 26, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Well put edem, and worth much more than two cents.
nonoise August 29, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Adam, some religions are cults and the biggest one is the catholic church. You should see how they brain wash their kids. The Divine Saviour Catholic church had the kids write a petition of lies against me and they used it in court. Would you like to see a copy? It is extremely interesting. It is just like a hitler list. It is amazing how they brain wash their kids. And, amazing how many lies the kids and the parents and teachers could come up with. Lies, lies and more lies. I beat them in court even with their lies. Thank goodness the catholic church is no longer a sacred cow in the eyes of the law. Justice is blind.
The MOG August 29, 2012 at 03:19 PM
@ Bill Bennett, like your reasoning. I'm curious if you'd be willing to apply the same logic to illegal aliens, as I do. The law's the law, afterall.
Adam August 29, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Humanity needs to depart from religion if it is to ever hope for a future. People don't realize how many species leave this planet every day. We are not exempt. We will lose this battle. It is just a matter of time. We're close to the end. Totalitarianism will come and America will be a casualty.
Maggie Thatcher September 19, 2012 at 03:46 PM
more smokers = less violence.

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