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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Court Ruling Can't Save L.A. Pot Dispensaries

Posted By on Thu, Jan 21, 2010 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge Win some, lose some
  • Win some, lose some

A victory for medical Marijuana here, a defeat there. While the California Supreme Court this morning struck down limits on the amount of medical Marijuana a licensed user can posses or cultivate, it seems Los Angeles users will soon have a smaller selection of places to get their pot at all.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council gave initial approval to an ordinance that would close hundreds of dispensaries and impose harsh rules on those remaining, including prohibiting customers from smoking inside. Since the 11-3 vote wasn't the unanimous agreement needed to pass a statute on the first reading, the council will vote on the measure again next Tuesday, according to the L.A. Times.

The council has proposed to allow the clubs that were opened before a 2007 city moratorium to stay in business, meaning the city could have about 150 clubs, according to the report. (The moratorium was struck down as invalid by a judge in October.) 

Our sister publication in that neck of the woods, LA Weekly, has reported that Marijuana advocates are already promising a legal challenge the law.

"Yes, we will challenge," said Brian Berens, founder of the Los Angeles Collective Association and owner of the Del Rey collective Green Oasis, which won an injunction against the city's 2007 moratorium that allowed it and other dispensaries to continue operating.

Berens questions whether or not the city can build an ordinance on a pre-moratorium count of dispensaries in Los Angeles if that moratorium has been struck down. (But, he adds, that he's not sure yet what exact legal grounds might be cause for a court challenge).

"Essentially the moratorium never legally existed," he told the [L.A.] Weekly, "so to base an ordinance on something that didn't exist, they're going to have problems with that. We could sue on those grounds, and we would win, I've been told by my attorney."

It looks like this issue will be getting hashed out for years to come.

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Lauren Smiley

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