The Fine Line Between Regulation and Prohibition


A recent report from the Los Angeles Police Department recommends "stringent regulation" of the city's medical marijuana dispensaries, which it says are attracting recreational users and crime. It suggests 41 rules for the city to adopt, covering matters such as location, security, signage, labeling, recordkeeping, maximum sale quantity (one ounce), maximum garden size (99 plants),  and hours of operation (10 to 6). Some of the rules, such as those demanding bank-style anti-theft precautions, would require substantial, possibly prohibitive investments, while others would limit access by legitimate patients. Probably the most consequential restriction would be the one prohibiting dispensaries "within 1,000 feet of any school, day care facility, church or house of worship, nursery, public park, or any location utilized for the exclusive care of children between the ages of 0 [and] 18 years old." The report does not say how many of the city's 98 dispensaries would be shut down by that rule, but it does note that "all medical marijuana dispensaries showed proximity of less than 1,000 yards to a house of worship, public or private school, or other location where children are likely to congregate, such as a public park." So with a little tweaking of the police department's proposed location restrictions, the city could easily regulate the dispensaries out of existence.