Marijuana advocacy group sues LA over limits
March 01, 2010
The ordinance sets a cap of 70 dispensaries in Los Angeles but temporarily allows more than double that number to stay open -- specifically, the 187 dispensaries that registered with the city before a moratorium was enacted -- provided they adhere to certain restrictions.
If any of the 187 dispensaries closes or goes out of business, it will not be replaced until the overall number is reduced to 70.
The ordinance requires dispensaries be at least 1,000 feet away from so- called "sensitive use" sites, namely schools, public parks, public libraries, religious institutions; licensed child care facilities, youth centers, rehab centers, and other dispensaries.
The law also bars dispensaries from being "on a lot abutting, across the street or alley from, or having a common corner with a residentially zoned lot or a lot improved with residential use."
Elford said the ordinance required affected dispensaries to find new locations within seven days of the law taking effect, a provision he called impractical.
"The requirement to find a new location within seven days is completely unreasonable and undermines the due process of otherwise legal medical marijuana dispensaries," he said.
City officials could not be reached for immediate comment on the lawsuit.
When the ordinance was adopted by the City Council in January, Councilman Dennis Zine said he believed the measure would withstand any legal challenge.
Zine said operators and patients of illegal dispensaries are "going to sue because they want to use marijuana when they want, where they want. They couldn't care less about the communities, the impact on neighborhoods.
"They just want to use marijuana to get high," he said. "We want it strictly for medical purposes."
Reacting to the council's vote in support of the law, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich said, "With the passage of the ordinance, the city of Los Angeles takes an important step forward in ensuring that seriously ill and deserving patients have reliable access to save and lawful sources of medical marijuana that are subject to regulation, inspection, and free from harmful contaminants. California law requires nothing less."