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Public Safety Committee Outlines Marijuana Regulation Plans

Los Angeles City Council will choose between two plans that aim to regulate marijuana dispensaries in the city.

The City Council's Public Safety Committee today advanced two competing plans over how to regulate the distribution of medical marijuana to the full council, which will have the final say on the issue.

The committee debated the two plans and voted 3-1 in favor of a proposal by Councilman Jose Huizar that would ban all dispensaries in the city, but allow patients and licensed caregivers to grow and transport medical marijuana. It would also allow mini-collectives of three or fewer people to jointly grow and share marijuana.

The committee also voted 3-1 to advance, without support, a plan by Councilman Paul Koretz to shut down most dispensaries, but provide immunity for an estimated 100 dispensaries that existed prior to 2007 and that abide by a strict set of regulations on location, hours of operation and security provisions.

The advancement of both proposals set up what is expected to be a dramatic final hearing and debate by a divided City Council, after five years of attempting to regulate medical marijuana distribution in the city.

Councilman Dennis Zine voted against both proposals during the committee meeting, which was held in Van Nuys.

Recent court cases have called into question the ability of municipalities to regulate dispensaries. An appeals court ruled in October that regulating dispensaries effectively allowed the use of marijuana, which is a federally banned substance. The California Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.

Public Safety Committee Chairman Councilman Mitchell Englander cited crime as a main reason for supporting a ban on dispensaries. He narrated a litany of serious crimes committed at or near dispensaries, including murder, rape, robbery and assaults.

"It's not about the few bad apples that have spoiled it...it's about the many that have spoiled it for the few (good apples)," Englander said.

Councilman Paul Krekorian told the committee and an audience of medical marijuana patients and supporters that he was conflicted about how to vote. Krekorian said he wants to preserve the intent of 1996's Proposition 215, which authorized medical marijuana use by legitimate patients.

He added, however, "We are left right now in the worst of all possible worlds. We have an out-of-control proliferation of dispensaries through this city which is flooding our communities, causing adverse impacts and bringing a bad name to those who want to legitimately do what the voters thought we were doing when we voted for (medical marijuana), which is to provide safe access to cancer patients and others who want to legitimately use marijuana as a drug."

Krekorian disagreed that public safety is a reason to ban dispensaries.

"We have crime around liquor stores, too...We have crimes around every kind of business, and yet, we aren't banning that entire line of business," Krekorian said.

The committee heard testimony from about a dozen medical marijuana supporters and patients, who urged the council to keep dispensaries open. Supporters disputed the idea that dispensaries breed crime and argued that banning them would create more public safety hazards by forcing patients to buy marijuana on the black market from drug cartels.

Sarah Armstrong, a legal adviser to the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance, told the committee that banning dispensaries would bring an "enormous tsunami" of lawsuits.

Several Studio City residents testified in favor of the ban, saying that there are at least 12 dispensaries in the Studio City area.

"That's way to many for 38,000 people," said Studio City Neighborhood Council Vice President Lisa Sarkin.

Mattey's Mom June 09, 2012 at 06:26 PM
I agree with Krekorian. I also believe there is a way to limit the # of dispensaries within a geographic area. I also agree that requiring people to grow their own is not a viable relacement - not everyone has the space, proper conditions or knowhow; forcing them to buy thru the black market which is precisely what we do NOT want to encourage. Treating medical marijuana dispensaries as "All or Nothing" is shortsighted & lazy. In the 70's when pot was illegal & punishable by jail time I would have wished to have a legal alternative to purchasing pot to help manage my father's terrible pain caused by cancer. For him, i was willing to take the risk. Smoking it indeed relieved both physical & mental distress.
Pat June 09, 2012 at 09:54 PM
There are hundreds of comments about the City banning plastic bags and charging 10 cents for paper bags. Yet there's practically no one saying anything about the medical marijuana dispensory issue. Strange. I agree that a balance needs to be struck regarding pot dispensories and those patients who now have to grow their own pot. What gets me is that the cops might bust those patients as well since marijuana is still an illegal substance. If marijuana were legalized, the job situation would improve in Los Angeles and there'd be more money for the City coffers. Hell, I'd probably grow and sell weed myself if I knew how, if it was 100% legal to do it, and if I had specially trained security guards as well as the cops patroling my business to keep thugs, gangsters, gangbangers and drug dealers away.
Paul B June 09, 2012 at 11:20 PM
What a joke. Leave it alone and focus on the important stuff. I've been "jumping" my car on woodman southbound at moorpark fro a year since that water main busted and created a mountain in the middle of the street. Let's get that fixed first and work our way up.
Kenny Kincaid June 12, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Hi.. I'm Ken ...I am almost 70 yrs of age...and had my first encounter with Marijuana when I was about 13 yrs of age...I still have all my brain cells...I am in great health..walk 5 miles a day..dance West Coast Swing... Tango... Hustle etc. 3 to 4 nights a week...non violent...Honorably dischaged vet Army 66-69..Viet Nam era...raised three childeren..all sucessful...one in law enforcement...worked for the City of Palm Springs...for almost 9 years...successful business owner...and prefer smokeing marijuana over drinking alcohol...or prescription drugs whih both deteriorate the body and dmage vital organs....by legalizeing cannabis...you take it out of he hands of the underworld...reulate it tax it ..so you know it has not been laced with other dangerous substances.... and is grown within strict guidelines....and your childeren... if so inclined to go that way..don't have to associate with undesireable characters....I don't belive for a second that it contributes to leading into harder drug use...I have smoked with Doctors..Lawyers...people in law enforcement...and all other walks of life...there is alot of misinformation around and thats a shame because the Bible clearly states that God gave man (every seed yeilding plant) for man to use...not abuse....look in the first chapter of the Bible you will see it for yourself...obviously at almost 70

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