Bratton Wants City To Examine Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

January 15, 2007

City News Service, NBC-4 TV (Los Angeles)

The Los Angeles Police Commission agreed Tuesday to a moratorium on the issuance of permits for new medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles.


Without discussion, the commission agreed with police Chief William Bratton's report that new dispensaries cannot be opened until new rules are adopted in governing where and when they can operate.


"There's a lot of money to be made," Bratton said. "There's nobody minding the store, if you will. They're hiding behind the guise that there's this incredible medical need out there. I'm sorry. The vast majority of people who use these premises are using them for recreational drug use."

In his report, Bratton said he wants to ban existing marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet from schools, churches, parks and other areas used by children. He also recommended that the businesses operate between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.


In October, the City Council's Public Safety Committee agreed to a one-year moratorium on granted permits for new dispensaries as city official seek out stricter operating regulations.


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


Nearly 100 medical marijuana dispensaries currently operate in Los Angeles, according to Bratton's report.


Calvin Frye runs a medical marijuana clinic in Studio City. He said federal agents raided a nearby clinic after residents complained.


"Guys came in acting like stoned drug dealers -- smoking pot outside in the parking lot, kids coming out and opening their bags, exchanging medicines because there are not regulations," Frye said. "If there were regulations like the board of supervisors did for unincorporated L.A., they wouldn't be able to do that."


Frye said that he supports Bratton's call for more regulations.


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.


In May, the county 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.


Bratton said he supports the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

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