LA panel OKs limiting of marijuana clinics

October 30, 2006

, Daily Breeze

A one-year moratorium on the issuance of permits for new medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles was approved Monday by the City Council's Public Safety Committee.

The committee asked the Planning and Police departments and the City Attorney's Office to draft the propos-ed ordinance. The council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee signed off on the idea last week.

The measure is expected to go before the full City Council early next year.

Councilman Dennis Zine proposed the moratorium last month, saying that too many of the dispensaries were operating in the city, often illegally selling pot to those without prescriptions.

About 80 medical marijuana dispensaries currently operate in Los Angeles, according to the LAPD.

Medical marijuana dispensaries are defined as "facilities that provide marijuana for medical purposes to patients or primary caregivers who have a related recommendation from a physician."

Ten years ago, 56 percent of California's voters approved Proposition 215, which says marijuana should be made available to people with medical problems, including nausea from cancer and AIDS treatments.

Federal law still bans marijuana use in all cases.

The previous Los Angeles police commission, appointed by former Mayor James Hahn, approved a measure in July 2005 limiting the dispensaries to commercial areas. That plan is expected to finally go before the Public Safety Committee next month, when the panel will also hear a report on how such businesses impact surrounding neighborhoods.

Last week, the Gardena City Council voted to shut down two dispensaries that have been operating in the city for a few months. The proprietors did not identify the businesses as marijuana dispensaries on their applications, instead claiming to be retailers of "herbal remedies." Since the council's decision, the dispensaries have reapplied for their licenses, explicitly stating that they sell marijuana. The new applications have been denied.

Several other South Bay cities, including Torrance, Lawndale, Hawthorne, Rancho Palos Verdes, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach, have enacted temporary or permanent bans on dispensaries. A dispensary in Torrance, Green Cross, was raided two weeks ago by federal agents, who seized 70 pounds of marijuana and 100 plants.

In May, the Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, including provisions on where the drug can be consumed.

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