L.A. City Council sets city fees for marijuana clinics
April 15, 2010
Rick Orlov, Los Angeles Daily NewsThe Los Angeles City Council on Friday gave preliminary approval to a fee schedule for medical marijuana dispensaries, the final measure needed to be addressed before the city's medical marijuana ordinance can be enforced. Under the action, approved on a 9-1 vote, the council adopted a fee schedule for clinic operators to pay in order to be able to remain open. The move, which needs a final vote next week, was protested by dispensary advocates.
The measure returns for a final vote next week.
"You could make a few simple changes to make this a model ordinance," said Don Duncan of Americans for Safe Access. "Instead of having one of the worst laws on the books, you could have one of the best."
The city measure has strict limits on where the clinics - now believed to number up to 600 - can locate, banning them from operating with 1,000 feet of schools, parks and residential areas.
The fee structure put in place, and taking effect in 30 days, calls for payments nearing $1,600 in order to be able to operate.
Fees called for in the measure include $151 for a police background check, $324 for the City Clerk's office, $688 for Department of Building and Safety permits and another $500 for miscellaneous fees.
Councilman Jose Huizar said city officials were told the fee schedule is fair.
"Once this fee ordinance goes into effect, we can enforce the laws fairly and equitably," Huizar said.
Councilman Bill Rosendahl continued to oppose the efforts to regulate the clinics.
"I think this is wrong," Rosendahl said. "We should forget about this and get on with our lives. If we go through with this, there will be nothing left in Venice or in areas where people need these.
"This is totally insane. We should tax this and bring in a revenue stream. This doesn't solve anything."
Adoption of the ordinance will trigger a new effort to close down non-qualifying dispensaries. Letters will be sent out to such operators, who will be asked to close down.
Qualifying clinics, including the 147 that are already registered with the city - will then be able to seek operating permits. The city will have six months to process the applications.
Critics questioned if the city will have the staff to deal with the expected number of applications.
City Attorney Carmen Trutanich already has begun an effort to close down many of the dispensaries.
Superior Court Judge James Chalfant issued a preliminary injunction earlier this week against a Venice collective that officials hope to use in closing hundreds of others.
The injunction against Organica Inc., was seen as a test case by the city.
Medical marijuana advocates have sought changes to loosen the rules on where the clinics can operate.
Under the new city guidelines, all but five clinics might have to move to continue their operations.
The city is seeking to have a cap of 70 clinics, but will allow the 147 that registered under an interim control ordinance.