A day after Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed an ordinance banning medical marijuana storefronts, Los Angeles City said Thursday that he looks forward to enforcing the law and restoring civic calm to neighborhoods overwhelmed by a high concentration of pot clinics.
“With the mayor’s signature, it is my hope that communities throughout the City of Los Angeles can now begin to reclaim their neighborhoods from the over-proliferation of illegal marijuana storefront dispensaries,” said Huizar, who helped draft the ordinance.
The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on July 25 to ban pot storefronts but allow individual patients and groups of three patients or less to grow their own pot for medical use. Hospices and licensed clinics would be exempted from the ban, as would facilities and home health agencies where patients get medical care or supportive services.
The immediate need, added Huizar, is for city authorities to focus on enforcing the so-called “gentle ban,” which is scheduled to be enforced within 30 days of the mayor’s signature.
The ban, which was championed by Councilmembers Mitchell Englander, Bernard Parks and Jan Perry, has the support of Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, the City Attorney's Office and District Attorney Steve Cooley. The ordinance would prevail until the California Supreme Court rules on the issue of medical marijuana and its distribution, Huizar said.
“In the interim, we would encourage legitimate medical marijuana patients to advocate their state legislature to fix the flawed state law so that only seriously ill patients with documented medical history have access to medical marijuana,” Huizar told Eagle Rock Patch.
That scenario, he added, “is what we all thought we were voting for when we supported the Compassionate Use Act” stemming from Proposition 215, the 1996 ballot measure regarding the medical use of marijuana.
The ordinance is LA’s "best option to preserve access to medical marijuana for patients while protecting public safety and quality of life for all Angelenos," Villaraigosa said Wednesday evening, shortly after signing the ban. "We look forward to a clarification from the state Supreme Court on this vague and ambiguous [state] law so the city can effectively plan for the future."
LA's marijuana ordinance is highly unlikely to go unchallenged by pot clinics, many of which are already in the midst of lawsuits agaisnt the city over its efforts to regulate the distribution of marijuana. Moments before the City Council voted for the ban last week, Special Assistant City Attorney Jane Usher told the Council that she expects further lawsuits from dispensaries.
The mayor’s signature on the ban was welcomed by President Michael Larsen, who had campaigned against medical marijuana storefronts, arguing that the presence of as many as 15 of them in the Eagle Rock area are disruptive to community life.
"It's been a long road for the ERNC, which has been fighting for reasonable regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries for more than four years now," Larsen said. "We are pleased that the ordinance will control an out-of-control situation, and we look forward to a time when legitimate patients can access medical-grade marijuana products in a way consistent with established medical standards as well as standards consistent with California law and local communities."
Larsen praised Huizar's "exhaustive efforts as well as his exemplary leadership" in crafting the ordinance. "Credit and thanks go to him and his staff for their hard work on behalf of the community of Eagle Rock," Larsen said.