Huizar Proposes Repeal of LA Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ordinance

The motion calls on the state Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue of regulating medical marijuana dispensaries

The city's medical marijuana ordinance would be repealed and replaced with a ban on dispensaries  under a proposal from an LA council member.

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Clarification on the medical pot dispensary issue and the city's right to regulate the businesses is needed from the state Supreme Court, according to Councilman Jose Huizar. The 14th District council member outlined the proposal before Wednesday's city council meeting.

"Our neighborhoods continue to complain daily about the disruption and  public safety issues presented by medical marijuana businesses operating in the city,'' Huizar's motion states.

The proposal will go before several committees before it reached the full council, which might occur in about two months.

The motion comes after about four years of attempts to regulate dispensaries and a flurry of court rulings. The city's ordinance, which limits the number and locations of dispensaries, would be replaced with a ban until outstanding issues can be resolved.

Medical pot activists denounced the proposal.

"It would be a disservice not only for patients, but to the community," said Bruce Margolin, of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws. "It's going to create crime and also deprive us of tax revenues and safety provided by the dispensaries."

Voters approved use of medical marijuana by passing Prop 215 in 1996. Huizar's motion calls on the city to reaffirm support for Prop 215 and patients' rights to grow and consume their own marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.

But a ruling involving a case in Long Beach has forced the city to take action, according to Huizar.

In October, a state court ruling struck down attempts by Long Beach to require marijuana collectives to register with the city and pay fees. In its Pack v. City of Long Beach decision, the court said cities can pass laws that restrict the rights of medical marijuana shops to operate, but regulations affirming the right for dispensaries to exist violate federal law.

Marijuana is listed as an illegal drug under federal law.

"The police department struggles between a rock and a hard place on this because of conflicting laws," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.

An appeals court in Riverside ruled this month that cities can ban dispensaries.

The motion is an effort to balance the "needs of those who truly need  medical marijuana for health reasons and protecting neighborhoods from the  proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries," said Huizar's director of communications, Rick Coca. "Everything he did was to balance those two things. This was not an easy decision to make."

Huizar is not the first LA city official to raise the issue. City Council members Bernard Parks and Jan Perry last month proposed phasing out the ordinance.

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