L.A. Gives Initial Approval To Repeal Medical Marijuana Ban
The city council banned medical marijuana dispensaries in July, though the ordinance allowed small groups of people to continue to grow marijuana together. But medical marijuana advocates gathered more than 49,000 signatures this summer to overturn the ban, forcing the city to decide whether to repeal the ban or ask all city voters to make the final call.
Somewhere between 500 and 1,000 marijuana shops exist in Los Angeles. Marijuana is not legal for any purpose under federal law, and federal officials have sought to shut down for-profit dispensaries throughout Southern California.
"These stores are a source of criminal activity because of the product they sell and large amounts of cash they have on hand," Los Angeles Police chief Charlie Beck said in a statement after the federal government raided 71 pot shops a week ago. "The LAPD will continue to work with our federal partners to remove these threats from our communities.”
Medical marijuana has been allowed in California since voters passed Proposition 215 sixteen years ago. But two years ago, voters rejected a measure to tax the medical marijuana industry. Meanwhile, neighborhood groups in Los Angeles have been concerned about safety issues as the number of dispensaries has soared.
"Right now in the City of Los Angeles, it is dangerous on the side of access as opposed to protection," said councilman Jose Huizar. "We can't even enforce our own laws. The real solution to all this is to ask our state legislators to fix our broken state laws."
"The problem is there are not details," said councilman Bill Rosendahl.
Councilman Mitchell Englander said Tuesday that the city should direct city inspectors and the police department to enforce existing zoning laws that do not expressly permit medical marijuana stores.
Medical marijuana advocates applauded Tuesday's vote.
"Today we thank you, but you aren't done...Patients need to know what places they can visit safely," said Yamileth Bolanos of the The Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance.