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City Council Finalizes Repeal of Ban on Medical Marijuana Storefronts

Tuesday’s vote is a formality that concludes the Council’s decision a week ago to overturn its “Gentle Ban” ordinance.

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday for the second time in a week to repeal its ban on medical marijuana storefronts, ending any uncertainty that the lack of unanimity in last week’s vote might change the Council’s decision on the issue.

Without any discussion, the Council voted 11-1 in a so-called “second reading” vote to overturn a “Gentle Ban” ordinance it had introduced in July to outlaw the sale of medical marijuana in storefronts—without preventing cannabis patients from cultivating their own marijuana in collectives of three or less individuals.

The only dissenting vote came from Council member Joe Buscaino, who had voted against repealing the ban last week as well, along with Council member José Huizar. (Last Tuesday's 11-2 vote forced it into a "second reading," which requires only eight votes for the issue to be settled.)

Huizar, one of the key architects of the Gentle Ban ordinance, was absent during the Oct. 9 vote, according to Rick Coca, the communications director for his office. Council members Bernard Parks and Jan Perry were also reportedly absent.

In a statement issued by his office, Huizar reiterated that medical marijuana storefronts are illegal under state law and that “nothing the City Council did” about the issue changes that reality.

“At this point, I’m more concerned with enforcement on illegal, for-profit dispensaries, which the federal government is currently engaged in,” Huizar said, referring to lawsuits that federal prosecutors filed against three Eagle Rock-based pot clinics on Sept. 25—part of a wider enforcement action against 70 other cannabis storefronts in the city. The federal crackdown came about a week after marijuana advocates submitted enough signatures in a petition to force a referendum on the city's ban on such businesses.

“While I support the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the state needs to create a better way of providing access for seriously ill patients while removing the scores of profiteers and recreational users who currently dominate the market,” Huizar said, adding that he was encouraged by the unanimous support for a resolution that he helped introduce in the Council last week, urging the state legislature to streamline state law regarding the cultivation and distribution of marijuana.

The council's vote came the same day Council member Bill Rosendahl, who has been using marijuana as he battles cancer, disseminated a letter informing constituents that he would not seek a third term on the City Council.

Rosendahl attacked President Barack Obama's decision last year to start going after medical marijuana dispensaries.

Marijuana advocates hailed Tuesday’s widely expected decision by the City Council, saying it would allow safe access for critically ill cancer, AIDS and other sick patients.

“The will of this Council, evident by the ban's repeal, is for limited, safe access within our city,'' said Yami Bolanos, president of the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance. “We call upon the federal government to respect their position—we urge them to immediately cease and desist from the threats and intimidation tactics directed at Los Angeles operators and their landlords.''

A plan by Council member Paul Koretz that would allow the operation of about 125 dispensaries that were open before Sept. 14, 2007, when the city placed a moratorium on new dispensaries, is expected to come before the City Council in early November. The plan would place strict regulations on dispensaries regarding location, hours of operation and required security.

—City News Service contributed to this article.

Bobbi Snow October 10, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Good list, John... More people can use MMJ without side affects than any chemical-based manufactured drug ever sold, including aspirin.
Bobbi Snow October 10, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Good list, John. More people benefit from the alternative use of MMJ than they do from any other manufactured drug ever put on the market, including aspirin.
NoHoAdjacent October 10, 2012 at 06:59 PM
The headline says "City Council Finalizes Repeal of Ban on Medical Marijuana Storefronts" Repeal being the operative.
Scott Zwartz October 12, 2012 at 12:26 AM
for those who think that teh City council should ban Pot Clinics, then ban abortion clinics. If women are too dumb to decide whether to take pot for cancern or just stress release, then they're too dumb to decide to have an abortion. While we're deciding what a doctor may prescibe and a patient may do, let's just kill off the entire Right to Privacy and let the government dictates everything in our lives. Thank heavens that once in every 7 years, the city council does something right. No bans on Pot Shop and no bans on abortiion clinics.
John October 12, 2012 at 05:37 PM
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/10/oakland-sues-us-to-stop-medical-marijuana-seizures.html The city of Oakland filed suit Wednesday against top federal prosecutors in an attempt to stop them from seizing property leased by the nation’s largest medical marijuana dispensary. The suit comes as federal prosecutors have ramped up efforts to shutter dispensaries statewide, targeting those close to schools as well as operations such as Harborside, which are in compliance with local and state laws but that prosecutors have deemed "superstores." Launched in 2006, Harborside now counts 108,000 patients in its collective and paid $3.5 million in taxes last year, $1.1 million of that to Oakland. Co-founder Steve DeAngelo worked closely with Oakland officials as they crafted one of the nation's strictest regulatory schemes to monitor and tax the industry. San Francisco attorney Cedric Chao, who is representing Oakland, said in a statement Wednesday that the federal government "acted beyond its authority" by filing the forfeiture action outside the statute of limitations. He added that the government has indicated for many years "by its words and actions that so long as dispensaries and medical patients acted consistently with state law, the dispensaries would be allowed to operate. Oakland has reasonably relied on these assurances."

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