LA Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Get Stomped On. It’s the Law!!!!

Okay.  I give.  What’s up with the Mayor, the City Council, the DA and the City Attorney?  Why are they staring at a cash cow in the face and shooing it away?

These are the people we elect who are supposed to be logical and run the city of Los Angeles so it works. I know it’s a really hard job, and I know they are doing they’re best.  Seriously.  I really am grateful that there are people who take these incredibly difficult, thankless jobs on.  Most humans don’t want to deal.  So I’m grateful that they are trying.

But, we’re in a major budget crisis.  So much so, that the mayor proposed last month that we shut down city offices a couple of days a week. School budgets are being flattened, police forces minimized and at last count, the deficit was running at a mere 500 million a year. That’s over a million a day. The state deficit is around 24 billion. Not great prospects for a stable future in this city or state.
That’s a lot of money to be losing. So why are they approving laws, ordinances that will cost the city millions upon millions in lawsuits, enforcement and waste the time of everyone?

Now enter the potential cash cow. A big one. Approximately 590 Marijuana Medical Collectives that are operating smoothly in the city. That’s a lot of potential tax flow.  Mayor Villaragosa and the City Council, instead of considering this new potential tax base to raise a LOT money for the city, have enacted a new ordinance that shuts these serviceable, successful collectives down. Collectives that the people of this city clearly want, support and have lobbied for. There is a need being filled, and the people are happy.  Doesn’t what the people of this city vote for, and more importantly, what they want, matter?

Do the math: Hundreds of millions of dollars they could potentially raise, (say tax each medicine exchange at a dollar), thousands of jobs lost, hundreds of landlords losing tenants and hundreds of thousands of patients who can’t get their medicine easily. No one wins. What am I missing here? Yesterday, the city sent out 493 letters to collectives that were formed after 2007 and to their landlords, notifying them that as of June 7th, if they don’t shut down, they will be fined $1000 to $2500 per day and face criminal and civil charges. Where is the logic here? What does the city have to gain by shutting them all down?

There have been no increases in crime in areas where these collectives have opened, certainly no more than around convenience stores. By making access difficult for patients, it will drive getting medicine back underground, creating more street crime. It seems to me everyone loses. Most importantly, the patients who want or need their medicine won’t be able to get it. And when you are sick with cancer… or any other debilitating disease, you don’t want to be doing street deals to feel better.

I know lots of people will say, “Hey! Most of those patients aren’t really sick!” But we are not the ones to judge… and for whatever reason, if someone has pain eased by cannabis… mental, physical, emotional, whatever… they need it. And we made it legal for patients to have access. Study after study has proved that this common herb helps heal people.

So isn’t the city essentially creating a situation that makes access,  which the people of the state of California approved, impossible?   Aren’t they inviting lawsuit after lawsuit?  Aren’t they essentially going around the law to serve some odd misguided notion that they are ‘protecting’ their constituents and gaining ‘control’ over dispensaries. Especially when time and again, the majority of people who vote on this issue say,  “make medical marijuana accessible and not a crime”.  Yet, they are treating these facilities and their patients like criminals.

But back to the cash cow.  Or lack of one. Seems like a classic short-sighted, and very expensive endeavor to me.

9 Replies to “LA Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Get Stomped On. It’s the Law!!!!”

  1. If you support prohibition then you’ve helped trigger the worst crime wave in history.

    If you support prohibition you’ve a helped create a black market with massive incentives to hook both adults and children alike.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped to make these dangerous substances available in schools and prisons.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped raise gang warfare to a level not seen since the days of alcohol bootlegging.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped create the prison-for-profit synergy with drug lords.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped remove many important civil liberties from those citizens you falsely claim to represent.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped put previously unknown and contaminated drugs on the streets.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped to escalate Theft, Muggings and Burglaries.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped to divert scarce law-enforcement resources away from protecting your fellow citizens from the ever escalating violence against their person or property.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped overcrowd the courts and prisons thus making it increasingly impossible to curtail the people who are hurting and terrorizing others.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped evolve local gangs into transnational enterprises with intricate power structures that reach into every corner of society, controlling vast swaths of territory with significant social and military resources at their disposal.

  2. Just got back from amsterdam, where people are allowed to go into a coffeeshop, have whatever they want, and walk right out the door into very public streets. Beautiful place, low crime, great public transportation and a happy population. How about some legislating by example?

    All the people I’ve talked to who grow love the closures, it just means they will sell “illegally” for higher profits. I’m sure gangs like MS13 love it too, good looking out for the public wellbeing city council.

  3. “By making access difficult for patients, it will drive getting medicine back underground, creating more street crime. It seems to me everyone loses. Most importantly, the patients who want or need their medicine won’t be able to get it. And when you are sick with cancer… or any other debilitating disease, you don’t want to be doing street deals to feel better.”

    As I did, maybe all these patients should of seen this coming long ago and did their homework to find a “off the street” good trustworthy friend to take care of their medical marijuana needs. Given the current situation this would have been best for them and not so hard to do. Too lazy or what? No excuses!

  4. I’ll admit that I know nothing about marijuana dispensaries apart from what I get from the media (the New Yorker article from a while back was the best thing I’ve read by far), and I don’t know anyone that goes to any (or at least not that they’ve told me about). I do support medical marijuana, and think pot should be legalized.

    However, I don’t really see this as a huge step backwards and I’m not really bothered by this at all. From what I understand, the City Council passed a moratorium in 2007 on further dispensaries opening. It seems to me that they’re just getting around to enforcing. If you decided to open a dispensary after that moratorium, you would have likely heard of it, and were probably hoping that the city would not get its act together and you’d be able to operate in a gray area. There are still going to be 130 (from what I’ve read) places where people can get their marijuana, so it’s not like they’re being deprived of their medication. I don’t doubt that some people will have to go further to get it, and that sucks. But we’re still talking about over 100 places in the city of LA where pot is available legally to people who need it. Could you have imagined such a thing 20 years ago?

    Here’s something from Katrina vanden Huevel along the same lines: http://www.thenation.com/blog/los-angeles-law-shows-us-trending-toward-drug-liberalization

  5. @Elisa — I had no need to find a dealer, because I almost exclusively patronize a dispensary that is not on the list of closures. The people who run it are law-abiding, tax-paying activists who are true caregivers and have been part of the community long before the DA went on his rampage.

    The best way not to be inconvenienced by these closures is not to go to the street, but to find a co-op that isn’t a front for drug dealers in the first place, who couldn’t care less if they’re selling moldy, dirty crap for stoners and not good medicine for sick people.

  6. Unfortunately, this is only the first wave of closures. Even out of the 130 that will still be ‘allowed’ to so call operate, only 7 fit into the new guidelines. Specifically, that they are 1000 feet from any residence, church, public park or school. There are very few places in LA that meet that requirement. As well, there are a boatload of other restrictions that simply make it hard to operate a collective under this new ordinance. My point was simple, these organizations have been working well, are heavily patronized, so instead of shutting virtually all of them down, why not tax them a modest amount and make hundreds of millions a year. This way patients have access, budget problems are helped… easy fix.

  7. ZenMonkey,
    on the contrary 99.8 of the dispensaries are not law-abiding(not true collectives but retail store fronts for patients and the general public)and many do not pay taxes. Also 99.8 percent of the owners and workers know absolutely nothing about care giving and are not schooled health professionals.

    I been smoking pot for 32 years and I am also a medical marijuana patient since ’05 and I don’t mean to burst your bubble but your dispensary may not be on the list of closures but they are a target for
    closure after June 7th. I say this because I have read numerous reports in the past few months that the city counsel is dead set in there conclusions that pretty much every single one of the original 137 registered dispensaries are also engaging in unlawful sales and will also be shut down after June 7th.
    Once the 436 close down this May, then for Law enforcement closing the remaining registered 137 will be kind of like shooting fish in a barrel.

    ASA(Americans For safe Access)just issued a report that although registered stores will theoretically
    have six months to get fully legal, after June 7th they have just one month to locate and inform the city about their new legal locations.

    Also the buffers aren’t the only difficulty:
    “It’s also finding property that’s not occupied with a landlord
    willing to rent” to medical marijuana facilities, which can be
    the target of constant legal hassles from localities and federal cops.
    As it stands right now four stores have found workable properties according to ASA.

  8. Having seen my mom through two bouts of cancer, the last fatal, I have done a little research into medical marijuana. My question is why doesn’t the city go after the crappy drs that write scrips for stoners for $50? I mean, if the dr’s office address is the same as the dispensary, one can assume they aren’t providing a huge amount of clinical assistance aside from a prescription pad and a pen.

    I have no problem with legitimate dispensaries, but most of the dozen places in the 6 blocks around my house are simple storefronts for dealers.

    My question is how many legitimate, actual real LEGITIMATE MM patients are there in the city? Do we REALLY need more medical marijuana dispensaries than grocery stores? In my neighborhood within around a mile from my house, there are 2 Ralph’s, one Vons, two Smart and Finals, and one Albertsons, on my way to those places, I pass around 30 dispensaries. They are so close together that the icons overlap on the maps.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-dispensaries-i,0,5658093.htmlstory Enter 90035 and take a look.

    Yes, we should just legalize the pot and tax it….but for now, that’s not the case so why should I have to wade through the druggies who have invaded my neighborhood as they hang out at their local dealer’s place?

  9. Here’s the thing legotech: Just as you saw your mother go through several bouts with cancer… so have I seen and experienced the heart wrenching and painful decline with someone too ill from chemo to eat. To despondent over their diagnosis to make an effort… and too overwhelmed to make an fight government ordinances. I saw the difference having access to Medical Marijuana made. In one case, it saved a life, making the difference between a feeding tube and able to keep down meals. To an outsider, this person would look pretty ‘normal’ (albeit thin). Should we be the ones to judge who is sick ‘enough’ for the meds they choose? No. Only a doctor can. Not the city council, not you, not me. Sure, some Dr.s may be scams, but many are legitimate professionals who have seen the difference it makes in healthy recovery when combined with chemo. That’s why they prescribe it. This is a free country… still… and this is a right we have to choose for our health. To chip away at that right through restrictive zoning or ordinances is taking away our freedom. And who cares if ‘stoners’ get the benefit of the law… if one persons pain is eased, it works for our society.

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