L.A.'s Medical Marijuana Regulations Draw Lawsuit


The crackerjack legal defense team for marijuana patients rights at Americans for Safe Access are doing it again, filing a lawsuit today challenging aspects of the recently passed, not yet fully in effect, new ordinance regulating medical marijuana shops in Los Angeles.

Details from the ASA's press release:

The local medical marijuana law passed by the City Council and signed by Mayor Villaraigosa on February 3rd requires dispensaries to find a new location within 7 days after the ordinance takes effect [if they meet certain criteria and their current location is no longer legal under the ordinance]. In order to comply with the ordinance, dispensaries must be located at least 1,000 feet from schools, parks, libraries, churches and other so-called "sensitive uses," and cannot abut or be across the street from any residence, which excludes almost all commercial areas in the city.

"The dispensary ordinance passed by the Los Angeles City Council might have been reasonable, if not for some onerous provisions," said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who filed the lawsuit today. "The requirement to find a new location within 7 days is completely unreasonable and undermines the due process of otherwise legal medical marijuana dispensaries." Despite spending more than two years to develop regulations, the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance without maps to show where dispensaries could locate in order to comply with the law…..

 Advocates claim that certain provisions in the local law threaten to shut down all of the city's dispensaries and amount to a de facto ban.

The language of the ordinance that is most fatal to dispensaries in the city of L.A. bars medical pot dispensaries from being across an alley from a residence, as most of L.A.'s commercial space is separated from residential behind it by just an alley.

The full legal challenge, which insists that the ordinance "violates due process, since plaintiffs have a vested right to operate their collectives, which cannot be deprived in such an unreasonable manner. For this reason, plaintiffs bring the instant action for injunctive relief," including a "declaration that [the ordinance] is unlawful and unconstitutional."

The ordinance in question.

The full story of L.A.'s (ongoing, as you see) struggle with medical marijuana will be told in a forthcoming Reason magazine feature.