L.A. Marijuana Ordinance Met With Mixed Reviews

Medical marijuana neon sign at a dispensary on...

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By Ashley Beasley

To most, the concept of a lottery is a good thing.  But for 230 Los Angeles medicinal marijuana collectives, it means they could lose their business all together.

Los Angeles City Council released a signed amendment to the Medical Marijuana Ordinance in February as yet another attempt to reign in the burgeoning number of medical marijuana collectives, and it’s getting a lot of heat from people throughout the city.

The current amendment seeks to close down 130 of the 230 registered collectives by conducting a random lottery, the date of which has yet to be set.

But that’s not the only part of the mandate getting attention.  There are currently two lawsuits filed challenging the ordinance.

“It’s like putting a poison pill in the well,” said Stewart Richlin, an attorney representing six collectives in Los Angeles.

Richlin, who filed a facial challenge to the ordinance on April 27, said one of the many troubling aspects of the ordinance is requiring all 100 collectives to cultivate their own marijuana plants.  He argues it will cause grave environmental effects, including chemically treated runoff water into the Santa Monica Bay and considerable power spikes from lighting plants indoors.

“[The City] is pretending there will be no environmental impact,” Richlin said, adding that the politicians have a reefer madness mentality and are simply out of touch with their constituents.

The City Attorney’s office refused to comment on the current lawsuits.

Before January 2010, as many as 1,000 medical marijuana collectives existed within Los Angeles.  Currently, there are around 230.

That might seem small in comparison, but the City says it has a problem with drug dealers and recreational users abusing the system to their advantage and it’s their job to address the issue, according to a preliminary injunction order cited in the ordinance.

Moreover, not all card carriers agree with the attorney’s case.

A Los Angeles business professional at a law firm, who asked not to be named, is a collective patient who gets treated for migraines.  When asked how the new lottery would affect her, she said it wouldn’t:

“I don’t need a CVS where I get my prescription on every corner.  If I need it, I’ll drive and get it.  Once you find [a collective] you like, you’re willing to drive the extra five minutes to get there.”

Although the environmental effects of self-cultivation hypothesized by attorney Richlin have not been put to the test yet, the argument had little effect on our business woman.  She said it wouldn’t be much different than if a new hair dryer suddenly burst onto the market and everyone was using it.

Understandably these points are the subject of much debate, but it’s hard to argue that the primary focal point of the ordinance, the lottery process itself, isn’t hap-hazard and just plain arbitrary.

“It stinks for those who have followed all the rules and are now being asked to shut down,” the business woman said and added, “But, I get that the city has to figure things out…I mean, they’ve never done this before.”

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