A little less than two weeks after introduced legislation in the City Council to ban medical marijuana facilities proliferating in Los Angeles, the voted 10-3 in support of the proposed law, which also seeks to repeal a nearly two-year-old ordinance aimed at regulating marijuana outlets.
Tuesday’s vote at the ERNC’s monthly board meeting at the , followed an unusually passionate public comments period during which a proponent of medical marijuana complained that his long-standing public records request to the ERNC for details that local marijuana dispensaries are an alleged safety threat have been ignored all along.
Public Records Request
“People call me a drug pusher, a drug trafficker—I’m not afraid,” said Tim Ryder, a veteran Eagle Rock resident and medical marijuana activist who runs an organization titled Cannabis Clubs United With the Community. “So the question I have is why can’t I have the public records” that will prove whether or not the ERNC has any evidence that the dispensaries disrupt communal peace or not.
ERNC President Michael Larsen responded that the ERNC had consulted City Attorney Carmen Trutanich in the spring of 2010, following Ryder’s public records request, and the city attorney had advised the neighborhood council to provide a summary of the public’s complaints against the dispensaries. “There’s no such thing as a report or a secret document that were’ keeping from you,” explained Larsen. “What we gave you months ago is all we have [and] if you need more information about crime statistics, go to the LAPD.”
The LAPD, Ryder countered, pointing to an officer who attended the meeting on behalf of the Northeast Community Station, says there’s “no crime” associated with medical marijuana dispensaries.
“The reason I’m asking for the records is not to prove you’re lying but to better address the problem,” said Ryder, comparing Huizar's proposed ban of medical marijuana to the prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. during the early 20th century.
Critic: Dispensaries Foster Crime
Corbett Rousey, a partner in an Eagle Rock-based security firm, Los Angeles Loss Prevention Investigations, challenged Ryder’s assertion that marijuana dispensaries are not magnets for crime.
Rousey said he often sees young men leave a dispensary near his office on Eagle Rock Boulevard and then sell the marijuana they have evidently purchased from the store to people outside.
ERNC Treasurer Brian Heckman supported Rousey’s observation by saying that the ERNC has received “legitimate complaints” from local residents, especially those who have children, about the negative influence that the dispensaries generally pose in the community.
The strongest criticism of marijuana dispensaries—of which there are 15 in Eagle Rock at last count—came from ERNC board member David Kofahl. “It seems like organized crime to me—and I don’t see anyone from the City calling it that,” he remarked.
City’s Toothless Ordinance
CD 14 Public Projects and Transportation Director Paul Habib offered a brief overview of the City’s medical marijuana ordinance, which has been challenged by scores of dispensaries since it was introduced in January 2010. Further, the ordinance has been rendered virtually powerless by a recent appeals court ruling in the so-called “Pack vs. Long Beach” case. The ruling, which is advisory and pending a final decision by the California Supreme Court, forbids cities from regulating marijuana dispensaries in any way—such as determining their number or their locations—but gives cities the power to ban them.
The ordinance conceived a number of location-based restrictions for dispensaries (such as their distance from schools, cultural centers and places of worship) but the only restriction that the legally embattled City could effectively enforce in the past was the requirement that marijuana facilities not be within a 1,000-foot-radius of schools, Habib said.
If Huizar’s motion becomes law—it will go before the City Council’s public safety committee on December 16 for discussion before Council members vote on it sometime in January—Los Angeles will likely be able to ban only upcoming marijuana dispensaries, Habib said.
The ones already in existence will probably remain open.