City sends notice of closure to pot clinics

May 03, 2010

Rick Orlov, Los Angeles Daily News

Notices were sent Tuesday to some 400 medical marijuana clinics in Los Angeles, advising them to close by June 7 or face criminal or civil action.

Under an ordinance that takes effect next month, only the 130 or so clinics that opened prior to a Nov. 13, 2007, moratorium can continue operating. The "courtesy notice" sent to dispensary operators and their landlords is a first step in closing the rest of the clinics.

"In a month, we will look at each case and determine our next course of action," Assistant City Attorney Asha Greenberg said. "We are hoping there will be compliance with the law."

Many of the clinics targeted for closure are in the San Fernando Valley, Greenberg said, but an exact count and location were not available. Officials have estimated that as many as 1,000 clinics may be operating citywide.

City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who lobbied for a measure that would have allowed more clinics to remain open, urged compliance with the ordinance.

"Until a court enjoins us, this is the law and they need to comply with it," said Rosendahl, referring to a lawsuit that has been filed that challenges the measure. "The last thing we want is the police being forced to come in to get compliance."

Kris Hermes of Americans for Safe Access said there are still a number of problems with the city measure.

"For one thing, they have still not produced a map showing where the operators can open," Hermes said.

"It's kind of hard to close down without knowing where you can operate legally.

"Many of the operators are also applying to locate in the same areas, which creates other problems. For some, it's been like a giant game of musical chairs in trying to find a valid location."

Also, Hermes said, several of those that received letters are involved in the lawsuit against the city.

"We've yet to see where that lawsuit is going and we are hoping to have a decision before June 7," Hermes said.

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