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Huizar Makes Headway on Medical Marijuana Ban

The Council member's motion now goes before the City's Planning Commission.

A motion to suspend Los Angeles' medical marijuana ordinance ahead of a possible citywide ban on marijuana facilities moved one step closer to a judgment day before the City Council.

The motion—proposed by —would indefinitely shutter Los Angeles' approximately 300 medical marijuana dispensaries, while still allowing authorized patients to grow their own marijuana or have a certified caregiver do so for them.

The City Council's Public Safety Committee on Friday forwarded the proposed motion to the City Council and Planning Commission after hearing testimony from local law enforcement officials, including LAPD Northeast Division Capt. Bill Murphy and Eagle Rock Senior Lead Officer Craig Orange. 

The Planning Commission next meets on Thursday, January 26.

According to Huizar, his motion is in response to the California Second District Court of Appeal's finding last year in the case of Pack vs. the City of Long Beach. The court ruled in the case that Long Beach's medical marijuana ordinance, which is similar to L.A.’s, violated federal law by attempting to regulate the sale of a federally banned drug.

The ruling declares that states are only allowed to decriminalize marijuana, not regulate it. Although the issue is currently before the California Supreme Court, the appellate ruling is binding for now.

Superior Court Judge Anthony Mohr ruled on October 14 that L.A.’s marijuana ordinance is valid and that its enforcement cannot be challenged by as many as 29 dispensaries that had sued the City over the issue. But Mohr also advised the City to revisit the ordinance to determine whether it can withstand a preemptory challenge in light of the Pack vs. Long Beach ruling and the fact that the L.A. ordinance has a provision for a lottery for dispensaries and other regulatory mechanisms.

“Given that we were advised by our City Attorney that we currently have an unenforceable ordinance, we are in a place where we were before we had an ordinance [when] we had a proliferation of dispensaries throughout the city, and with that proliferation came an impact on the quality of life in local communities,” Huizar said when

Huizar, who helped craft L.A.'s ordinance, has long expressed his frustration with state laws regarding the cultivation and distribution of marijuana, which have prevented local regulation, including zoning. In December, he was joined in his criticism of the state's flawed marijuana laws by California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who wrote a letter to state legislators, urging them to address what she said was "the exploitation of California's medical marijuana laws by gangs, criminal enterprises and others." (See attached pdf for details of the attorney general's letter.)

There are an estimated 15 medical marijuana facilities in Eagle Rock (as well as adjoining Glassell Park), and two dispensaries in Highland Park.

Marino January 20, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Patricia, I have great respect for you and I credit Swork as the shop that started the new Eagle Rock. Also back then TERA helped small businesses like yours to open, instead of putting up nimbyist roadblocks like ERNC does now . So I'm a little perplexed with your objections. Outside of the Eagle Rock Mall and the block where Swork is located I don't know of any commercial area that's not within 150ft of houses or next door to another business. And since when a business does not want human traffic near their business? As for the parking situation again outside the Eagle Rock Mall and that hideous strip mall on Argus & Colorado I don't know any business in Eagle Rock that has adequate parking. Is that what we want for Eagle Rock? Strip malls and businesses that don't see more than one customer an hour? Swork would have never opened. We wouldn't have Coffetable, CaCao Mexicatessen, Cafe Beaujolais and many of the places that make Eagle Rock special. Beware what you wish for. Maybe Medical Marijuana should be sold at pharmacies like Rite Aid and CVS or government stores like they sell liquor in some states back east, I don't really know. I know that prohibition is not the solution and I know that chasing small businesses away under the cover of traffic, parking etc leads us only towards the suburban model. The houses are "here", the businesses are "there" and you need to drive your car to go from one to the other. I honestly don't think that's what the community wants.
Barry January 20, 2012 at 03:36 AM
I have been reading these posts since The Patch started covering the MMD fiasco, and no matter what anyone says about how MMD's have lowered the standard of living in many neighborhoods someone always has to retort that they don't and we are all just neocons or prohibitionists and don't care about compassion for the sick. Enough is Enough. Marijuana is not the issue. The behavior of many, not all, but many of the "patients" is the issue. Patricia is dead on. I live on the street and have seen it since the day they opened. Most in the neighborhood with children don't even let them play outside anymore in their own front yards (Do you need some proof, Joyce?) Urinating on buildings, illegal parking, side deals, loitering, fighting, blaring car stereos, excessive speeding, illegal u-turns, screaming up and down the street, trespassing, and medicating in parked automobiles. And as far as seeing video footage? The police have seen it and they are very aware of the situation. They have actually told me and other neighbors to not photograph anymore due to possible retaliations. People don't act this way at the dry cleaners why is picking up your medicine any different? Bottom line, pro medical marijuana advocates should actually be more upset with people who can't control themselves when picking up their medicine, than they should be with neighbors who are just trying to protect their rights to lead a peaceful existance
Rob Schraff January 20, 2012 at 03:36 AM
No traffic. No trash. No reselling, No parking in driveways. No gangsters. No Mexican cartels. No evidence at all. Just old Larsen PR - inviting in the Feds! Maybe the feds can also prevent swearing and beer-drinking in Yosemite Park? And run stings to detect "Illegal" massage parlors? Really, the feds are a great solution for alleged parking and traffic problems on College View, Michael! Way to have a sense of scale and your own relevance.
Rob Schraff January 20, 2012 at 03:48 AM
"Oops, we would have the video, but the police said they don't need any more evidence, they have all they need." The police can address all of the actual illegal behaviors you cite, from fights to illegal parking, to urinating in public, to traffic violations, to side deals. Why don't they do their job? And you really think traffic on Colorado is because of the clinic? Maybe we need federal traffic police AND federal parking police.
Barry January 20, 2012 at 04:09 AM
You clearly enjoy having a go at anyone who doesn't agree with you and that is fine. So ill entertain you for a moment. The street in question is actually College View, not Colorado. And as far as the police doing their job, a urination and an illegal u-turn aren't top police priorities, and I know that, thus response times and attention to the act is low priority. However they are a huge neighborhood annoyance day after day. My question to you is why do you always take the side of everything MMD? Are businesses suppose to act with complete recklessness to their neighbors, MMD or otherwise? Common sense would dictate that acting out where people live is just poor judgement. Why would you be an advocate of such behavior? Or do you just like to argue for argument sake? As for your far reaching stab at humor. We probably don't need a federal traffic police nor a parking police, just patients who are in need of some compassion, to actually have some compassion for others when they are picking up medication, much like they would do at a walgrens or CVS, nothing more.
Marino January 20, 2012 at 08:03 AM
I'm willing to accept Patricia's and Barry's word who live there that all the problem traffic and parking and public urination is coming from AEC customers. But that's the same problems that neighbors of Dodger Stadium complain about. Is anyone advocating banning baseball in all of Los Angeles except in the privacy of one's own backyard? Because that's what Jose Huizar and Michael Larsen are proposing. This is not the first or the last time that some business or its customers will have an adverse impact on the immediate neighborhood. There are ways to address that other than wholesale ban of all the businesses of that type. Limit hours, permit parking, security etc. As a landlord I pay a fee every year for the city to come and inspect me. We don't ban rental property cause some property owners are slumlords. In the film industry where I've worked for 20 years we pay city "monitors" to come and inspect us when we shoot on location, esp locations that have reported frequent complaints. We don't ban all location filming cause it has inconvenienced some. As a society we have mechanisms to negotiate the coexistence of competing interests without abolishing one to satisfy the others.
David Klinger January 20, 2012 at 08:18 AM
I don't think anyone would advocate banning baseball due to complaints for the neighbors, but the Dodgers, trying to be good neighbors, might try to address the complaints, and the City may try to implement reasonable regulations to alleviate the issues. It sounds like you are okay with reasonable regulations on MMDs. The problem is that the recent court decision (the Pack case) held that the City can't regulate MMDs. So what do you advocate in solving this problem? Should the City try to enforce its current regulations that were held invalid in the Pack case, and thereby lose on any legal challenges? That doesn't sound like a very fiscally prudent move. And if the City were to try to draft new regulations, it seems like the Pack case would dictate that those regulations are also invalid. That doesn't sound like a very fiscally prudent move. Do you have a solution? I have read complaints from residents living near MMDs, and the response from MMD supporters is "prove it." Tim Ryder says that he hasn't seen anything or heard of anything from what he considers a reliable source, so he doesn't believe anything improper is occurring. Rather than attack the credibility of nearby residents and ignoring complaints, why don't the MMD supporters get together with Tim Ryder's group and the MMDs and try to find ways to resolve the complaints? A security guard in the parking lot or the front of an MMD doesn't seem like it solves the issues people have companied about.
Marino January 20, 2012 at 09:20 AM
The majority of councilmen and city councils don't have as extreme view as Juizar and the ERNC so it's you guys that need to do the explaining how you can regulate something by pushing it completely outside the law. I do believe that in time we can regulate MMDs like we regulate all aspects of civic activity. The reason this started on the wrong foot and the MMDs opponents lost all credibility was because their opposition was based on the number of MMDs not on any adverse effects of any particular one. That showed a moral prejudice towards the product way before the Long Beach decision. I really don't have an answer on how to regulate MMDs. I'm not a lawyer or a lawmaker BUT I understand there is a conflict between state and federal law and I know it has happened before with abolition and civil rights and it's happening now with gay marriage. It's legal in some states not legal in others or the fed. We are at the cusp of something new. Some of us want to move forward and others want to roll the changes back. That's what it's all about. Juizar and Michael Larsen will not find the solution because they are trying to solve the wrong problem. Their problem is that there are too many MMDs ie too much "sin". The actual problem is that SOME of them may not be good neighbors, something that can happen with any business, yes even dry cleaners when they spew toxic fumes. It's a product. We need to regulate it, tax it and move on.
Rob Schraff January 20, 2012 at 03:08 PM
@ Barry - I am sincerely sorry you experience some of the problems associated with living very near a busy commercial street. I am sure with the recent gentrification and development of Colorado Boulevard this has created a number of new nuisances, including those caused by loutish clinic customers. As others and I have pointed out, however, there are a number of remedies open to you before tarring all medical patients with one brush and banning all clinics, all across LA. This is extreme, and will have a huge negative effect on not only medical marijuana patients, but all residents as crime is pushed back into alleys and parks. And let's assume that "most" AEC medical marijuana patients are young, relatively healthy, young men, lots of them from Glendale - so what? How does this make criminalizing such people a good idea? Prohibition of marijuana is over in California, and its time to deal with the results. Finally, I find it remarkable that the owner of Swork, a business with no street parking that no doubt creates plenty of parking and litter issues for its nearby residential neighbors, is criticizing a local business with off-street parking and a sign on the door urging customers not to park on the street. Really? (And, for further irony, look into the history of coffee and coffee houses. Sheeesh.)
kelly thompson January 20, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Michael I believe the hijacking you describe is what this motion stands to achieve. At best it monopolize the power and money into the city, it's officials pockets and agendas. Organized crime comes in many forms this motion just shifts the power. To think that the proposed 'certified caregivers' are not affiliated with powerful organizations is an illusion.
Robyn January 20, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Interesting read along with Eagle Rock Patch's most informative articles! http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/01/20/obamas-war-on-medical-marijuana/
kelly thompson January 20, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Perhaps all business on Colorado should be required to pay and provide customer parking, control littering, loitering whether at tables or standing, noise, excessive stereos, u-turns, huh! Since coffee and alcohol promote urination perhaps we should blame all bars and coffee houses for anyone who urinates publicly and shut them down. Absurd right! You can no more control assaults at the corner of Colorado and Eagle Rock bus stop as a business owner as you can these other accusations. Or can you as a business owner control these things? Perhaps their are other ways to create a dialogue with these business in order for them to discuss it with their patients one of many suggestions listed in this thread. Perhaps landlords can help in these situations their are other legal ways to address individual businesses. This motion does not do that. I feel that these issues should be addressed but not as a blanket, shut them down and let government control who can and can't sell. Unfortunately times have changed when I was a child we were off on our bikes and not seen until dinner. Our children don't have the same safety advantages we did when we were growing up REGARDLESS of these clinics.
kelly thompson January 20, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Well this was in response to Robyns now deleted post! So it may seem strange to those of you who didn't read it before it was deleted. Oh well.
kelly thompson January 20, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Thanks for posting I did read that. I noticed he did not endorse this motion either. He also raises interesting points some that I noticed David shared earlier. Cheers!
Michael Larsen January 20, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Kelly, I see you have brought up this idea in several posts. Can you elaborate a little and describe what the mechanism is for your assertion that the City somehow wants to monopolize MMJ distribution and profits for the benefit of City Officials? How will this work exactly?
Marino January 20, 2012 at 09:39 PM
If there can only be 100 chiroparactors in the city, 100 denstists, 100 lawyers, 100 liquor stores, 100 barber shops, 100 taco trucks and the city councilmen decide what process to use to pick those 100 is there a possibility that many would want to influence the council members decision with campaign contributions, job offers for relatives, free services etc? Nah. That would never happen.
Michael Larsen January 20, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Marino, The last mechanism to choose the 100 was a random drawing of pre-qualified shops, but that was fought against by the shops and later struck down by a judge. Can you think of more fair and unbiased way of choosing?
Marino January 20, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Random & prequalified is not random. The obvious answer is to not place limits just like there are no hard limits on the businesses I enumerated above . Let the market decide. You can't complain on one hand that each one of the local 10 stores generates too much traffic and then advocate on the other hand that there should only be one store to handle 10 times the traffic. It's hypocritical.
Aaron January 20, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Pack vs. the City of Long Beach was rendered moot by the Supreme Court yesterday.
Aaron January 20, 2012 at 10:41 PM
I like to look at the parallels between alcohol and marijuana prohibition. Legalized marijuana over time will weed out the criminals as well as any industry can. The demand for marijuana is there, so there will be a supply. I'm hopeful that we can setup reasonable regulations to get the criminals out of the picture over the long term. We also know prohibition of alcohol did not work, and if we learn from history, we will realize prohibition of MJ doesn't work. Plus, MJ is a far less dangerous drug than alcohol. An argument for MJ prohibition should include an argument for alcohol prohibition otherwise people are just being hypocritical.
Aaron January 20, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Are you ever able to get local law enforcement to visit your area when people are loitering and possibly making illegal deals? Regardless of the debate, it would be great to see law enforcement setup a stronger presence in areas of trouble (regardless of the businesses involved. I've heard in San Diego during the summer, the police setup a mobile office at several beach locations that bring in folks looking for trouble. It is my understanding that much like a liquor stores, people are not allowed to loiter and consume the product. I believe that is true for dispensaries as well. I do think these types of problems will lessen as MJ becomes legal. Anyway, I am truly sorry you are experiencing those issues in your community. Did they occur before the dispensaries were there?
Michael Larsen January 21, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Marino, all of the businesses you mention have stringent regulatory controls on them by multiple levels of government. Pot shops have no regulation whatsoever. If you believe that there is regulation, please point to it. I can't find it. If you're saying that you would be in favor of the shops having the same kind of regulation as liquor stores, for example, then we would have a starting point for agreement, but until that similar regulation can be put in place, I think they should close.
kelly thompson January 21, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Thank you Marino for explaining a monopoly. I think if you just take the basic principles of monopoly and apply it to this motion you can see the connection. I would have to ask you the same question to produce documents that prove the clinics are getting their supply from who is it you say? The Mexican drug cartels, or organized crime, gangs or who ever you say it is. I can personally attest that one of the suppliers for our local clinic is my neighbor. He grows his 6 plants and sells the excess to the clinic. I see no problem with that. I also have no problem closing my windows when the skunk aroma lofts into my home, really a simple solution and no big deal. I have heard that the few main larger 'local' growers that used to supply the city before it was decriminalized supply the majority of the clinics now. Only rumor of course. But do you think Huizar is going to make sure the 'certified clinics' get their supply from several small local growers. I truly believe this is where you will cut out the small guy and play into the bigger more 'organized' suppliers. Again no proof or documentation but I don't think you have documentation to prove where you say you think the supply is coming from. I think I've said all I care to on this. I truly hope that everyone can see the difference between Huizars motion and money, politics, community improvement and individual clinics that need to adjust their behavior.
Barry January 21, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Aaron- What does the rendering of Pack v. Long Beach actually mean? Does that mean LA can actually enforce their ordinances? Can cities ban or not ban MMD's? What are the actual ramifications of this motion? Thanks in advance.
Erin Malone January 22, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Ok the cartels are NOT running the dispensaries. One of the dumbest arguments so far. Leave the dispensaries be. As a prior chemo patient my life would not have been the same without medical marijuana. Yes there are people that get it that don't need it, but hey, its being taxed so who cares. More people die from alcohol, not weed. So sick of this argument. The law is there, they need to lay off
Aaron Foster January 22, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Great question Barry. I'll refer you to this article that discusses that http://www.eastbayexpress.com/LegalizationNation/archives/2012/01/19/medical-marijuana-activists-cheer-california-supreme-court-decision-to-review-dispensary-bans I hope that helps. I'd love to hear more answers to your question as well. Since I am not a lawyer, it would be great to hear from someone more qualified spell out exactly the meaning of the ruling. Quoting that article (I hope that is okay on this forum), "Cities and counties can no longer use Pack to ban clubs, said Americans for Safe Access legal counsel Joe Elford. “We're very pleased that local governments will now be unable to use appellate court decisions to deny patients access to medical marijuana in their own communities." AA
Pat January 22, 2012 at 05:38 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlA8rwpC-TY So what's that I hear about the cartel? There are HOMELESS people (including female and elderly) STARVING on every other block in Eagle Rock and Huizar and his boy wonder-Michael Larsen can stop talking about trivial statistics on pot shots? HELLOOOO??? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlA8rwpC-TY
John February 11, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Please ask the City Council to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate unhindered in the City of Los Angeles. The best course of action for The City of Los Angeles is to take no action regarding medical marijuana dispensaries. The City should not allocate any funds or resources whatsoever for the enforcement of marijuana laws. The City should make no laws, ordinances, or regulations regarding the sale, possession, distribution, or use of marijuana by adults over the age of 18. Medical marijuana dispensaries should be taxed and licensed the same as any other business operating in the city. Federal marijuana laws are arbitrary, hypocritical, unfair, and prejudicial and serve no worthwhile purpose other than to make criminals of otherwise law-abiding, tax-paying voters. It is not the job of the LAPD to enforce these stupid, malicious, costly, and heartbreaking federal regulations. Medical marijuana dispensaries have operated in legal limbo for over six years in Los Angeles. Contrary to what the council and city attorney would have you believe, apparently there have been hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries operating without any problems or complaints in their neighborhoods.
Michael Larsen February 11, 2012 at 03:33 AM
John, two major community groups in Eagle Rock have asked the City Council to support Mr. Huizar's Ban-Until-Regulated efforts. The Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council and The Eagle Rock Association both agree with you that "dispensaries should be taxed and licensed the same as any other (comparable) business operating in the city." But that cannot happen until the California Supreme Court and the California Legislature determine what regulations are allowed. Until then, we support a ban on storefront pot shops and delivery services.
joyce hong February 11, 2012 at 07:04 PM
John, the so called "gentle" ban will hurt legitimate patients who are not able to grow their own medicine. The City Attorney has created draconian regulations which have been a disaster. People who push for this "gentle" ban are disingenuous at best as their contempt for cannabis is stronger then their respect for legitimate patients. Maybe Mr. Larsen will allow patients to grow in his garage. We will have to check with his first though. It appears that other neighborhood councils do not support this Draconian ban like the ERNC does http://goo.gl/UtCkA

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