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Ear to the Ground

L.A. Sued Over Ban on Medical Pot Dispensaries

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Posted on Aug 20, 2012
Flickr/Caveman 92223

A sign advertising a medical marijuana dispensary in West Hollywood.

The battle between the city of Los Angeles and medical marijuana advocates is intensifying again after a group representing hundreds of pot shop owners and patients sued the city in an effort to overturn a ban on dispensaries. The ban is scheduled to take effect on Sept. 6 and would shut down at least 1,000 pot dispensaries.

In its stead, patients would be forced to grow their own cannabis.

The Patient Care Alliance, which filed the lawsuit, argues that blocking the medicinal marijuana trade in L.A. will put the industry out of business and negatively impact those who badly need the medication.

“Our contention is that the city is unable to legally deprive citizens of the right to assemble and associate together in connection with their diseases,” Patient Care Alliance attorney Marc O’Hara said.

City Councilman Jose Huizar, who authored the medical marijuana dispensary ban, has said he believes the city will win the legal challenge.

In the meantime, proponents of medical marijuana will begin collecting signatures next week for a ballot measure that would ask voters to repeal the ban.

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

KPCC:

The lawsuit, filed in L.A. County Superior Court, seeks a temporary restraining order and injunction against the ban, though it is unlikely that a ruling will be in place before the ban becomes law.

Last month, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously agreed to shut down hundreds of storefront clinics selling medical marijuana. The ban would allow collectives of no more than three patients or caregivers to grow their own medical marijuana. 

The L.A. city attorney’s office has sent letters to pot shop owners ordering them to shut their doors next month. Those who do not comply could face fines of $2,500 per day. Employees, volunteers and landlords could face six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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