Documents detail 'violations' of standards among pot shop applicants

August 25, 2010

Rick Orlov, Los Angeles Daily News

After winnowing out medical marijuana clinics that violate provisions of Los Angeles' strict new ordinance, just 41 of the 169 applicants meet city standards for operating, court documents filed Thursday show.

The documents filed in Los Angeles District Court detail the myriad reasons that 128 clinics violate the city ordinance, which is the subject legal challenges.

"We were surprised more did not meet the standards," said Jane Usher, the special assistant city attorney who worked with the City Council on the ordinance.

"This was the first step in our process," she said. "The second is to find the complying collectives to be distributed throughout the city."

The ordinance prohibits the clinics from locating near schools, playgrounds and residential neighborhoods and from being concentrated in specific areas.

Usher said the city also wants to ensure that clinics dispersed citywide so that patients have access to the medical marijuana.

Frank Sheftel, one of the applicants who was ruled noncompliant, said he was outraged by the process.

"The City Clerk gave no reasons for why they deemed someone eligible or ineligible," Sheftel said. "They are opening themselves to a floodgate of lawsuits."

Sheftel said collective operators still believe the city should adopt procedures similar to those in Oakland, that provide more leeway on where clinics can operate.

Kris Hermes of Americans for Safe Access, questioned Los Angeles' actions and the City Council's overall efforts to regulate the clinics.

"This is pretty bold by the city to further restrict the number of dispensaries allowed to operate in the city," Hermes said. "There is patient demand in Los Angeles and it seems wrong to shut down clinics that have been operating for years without incident.

"We don't think the city is on good legal ground with the way it has been acting," Hermes said.

Proposition 215, approved by voters in 1996, says patients who have a doctor's recommendation can possess and cultivate marijuana for personal medical use.

Hundreds of pot clinics cropped up in Los Angeles as the City Council wrestled with passing an ordinance to regulate the facilities. The law, enacted in June, is now being challenged in court by clinic operators. A judge has scheduled a Sept. 21 hearing on the lawsuit.

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