Monday, June 07, 2010

Ordinance Set to Close More Than 400 Dispensaries in Los Angeles

The L.A. City Council approved a city ordinance that limits the number and locations of medical cannabis dispensing collectives in Los Angeles months ago. Today, the deadline is in effect for collectives to comply with the ordinance. Collectives that registered with the city before 2007 will be able to remain, as long as they are not within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, and other public gathering sites. This will force more than 400 medical cannabis dispensaries into new locations or to close down completely.

While regulations are necessary and welcomed, LA's regulations seem to be excessive.  Aaron Smith, California policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project explains it well:

"This new ordinance is all but guaranteed to have a disastrous impact on Los Angeles. By imposing zoning laws on medical marijuana collectives that are stricter than those for gun dealers, adult entertainment businesses, alcohol vendors, or pharmacies, the city is placing an undue burden on thousands of medical marijuana patients whose quality of life may depend on safe and reliable access to their medicine. There is no rational reason to impose stricter regulations on medical marijuana collectives than on liquor stores, which sell a substance that everyone knows is more harmful than marijuana and doesn't require a doctor's recommendation to purchase. With so many collectives being forced to close shop, many patients whose neighborhood dispensaries close will no doubt turn to the criminal market to obtain their medicine. That means sales taxes won't be paid on those transactions, it will be impossible to monitor the quality or origin of that marijuana, and the typical turf wars and crime associated with black markets will become more prevalent in surrounding communities.

"Even in terms of simple economics, closing these businesses makes entirely no sense," Smith continued. "Why, in the midst of a recession, in a city already plagued by economic stagnation, would anyone think it's a good idea to shutter more than 400 legitimate businesses that employ hundreds of residents and contribute millions in tax revenue? More empty storefronts are not the solution to L.A.'s financial woes."
Unfortunately, it is common for a medical cannabis dispensary and it's patients to be alienated, rather than embraced in a community. Many neighborhood residents have the misconception that a dispensary in their area would lead to an automatic increase in crime, this is just not true. A medical cannabis dispensary is there to provide safe access to medicine for their patients. Legitimate collectives also pay taxes, create jobs, and ideally, improve the community by giving back. 


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