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.