Pot’s Shaky Legal Status in CA Causes LA to Ban Medical Marijuana Shops
Since 1996, when Californians voted to allow the legal use of medical marijuana, shops selling cannabis have started to appear across the state. However, no city has this happening in the incredibly high numbers seen in the city of Los Angeles. LA now has 762 pot dispensaries, according to city officials, with approximately 200 more either unregistered or trying to open.
California is joined by 16 other states and the District of Columbia in making marijuana legal for medical use, despite the federal governments ban on the substance’s sale. Feds have managed to shut down several dispensaries despite the state laws. Even though so many other states have allowed medical marijuana to be sold, no other city comes close to the number of dispensaries in LA. In comparison, Denver has over 100, and San Francisco has about a dozen shops.
Perhaps this is why the Los Angeles city council felt compelled to support the ban of all storefront medical marijuana dispensaries in a 14-0 vote. This vote comes in the face of contradictory rulings on how much power local governments have to control the spread of marijuana shops in their community. The city council gave all marijuana purveyors 30 days before the ban would be enforced, however, the matter is awaiting an official decision from the state’s Supreme Court.
LA Officials Term This Ruling a ‘Soft Ban’
The majority of Los Angeles city council members still support the safe and easy access to marijuana for patients in medical need, especially in the case of cancer and AIDS patients. That is why they instituted a “soft ban” on the sale of medical marijuana. Although officials want the storefronts shut down, they are still allowing use of the drug in the following manners:
- Home healthcare agencies
- Individuals can grow marijuana in their own home
The city council members are trying to find a balance point between allowing the drug to safely make it into the hands of patients in need, while cleaning up neighborhoods and surrounding businesses who have been negatively affected by the storefront sale of marijuana, which many claim is supplying a great many recreational users, not just individuals with painful medical conditions.
Second Time’s the Charm?
This is not the first time the LA city council has attempted to control the number of dispensaries. Just two years ago they passed an ordinance that would have capped the marijuana storefronts at 70 in total. Nevertheless, legal disputes stopped the ruling from having any effect. Complaints of marijuana smoke hurting surrounding businesses is an issue that needs to be dealt with no matter what the Supreme Court ultimately decides, as well as the concerns of parents who worry when their children are exposed to the use of the drug in their neighborhoods.
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