The federal assault on medical marijuana dispensaries is heating up in Colorado and re-igniting in long embattled Los Angeles, California as well. LA’s City Hall is trying to ban medical marijuana dispensaries outright, and they are getting some help by the US Attorney’s Office.
Three dispensary operators in Long Beach were convicted for selling marijuana last week and those Southern California dispensaries that have been targeted are now going to lose all their property in asset forfeiture. According to a statement out today for the US Attorney’s office, they will take everything that belongs to targeted dispensaries in Orange and LA Counties.
Federal and state agents executed search warrants on three different medical marijuana dispensaries yesterday, and that led to a search of two separate marijuana growing operations, each with more than 500 plants. Letters from US Attorneys are still being sent out to some dispensaries, and the property owners where the dispensaries operate warning them they need to take the steps to stop the sale and distribution of cannabis at their stores, or face all the penalties that can incur at the hands of the federal government that doesn’t see marijuana as either a medicine or a legal substance.
Several dispensary owners in Southern California that ignored the warning letters last year now have court dates on the docket for 2012. And things don’t look like they will get any easier for medical marijuana dispensaries in LA. LA Councilman Jose Huizar is working to get all medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits to close their doors, a proposal he made to the council last month, and one that is gaining traction as the proposal got most of the details hashed out by the City Council’s Public Safety Committee in a closed door session last Friday WITH the US Attorneys for Southern California.
The LA City Council has had a long standing fight with dispensaries in the City of Angels. Since 2007 they have been working on regulations or outright bans, so far unsuccessfully. But now with the help of the threatening letters from the Feds, and the pressure on land owners, dozens of dispensaries have closed their doors.
The city tried to cap the number of dispensaries in LA at 100, and moved to do that based on a lottery system. A California Appeals court told them they couldn’t legally have a lottery system to choose business licenses, so many unlicensed shops have sprung up in the meantime, while the city has tried to find a way to regulate the medical marijuana market. As the number of dispensaries in LA have gone up, instead of down, it seems that the Council is more open to an outright ban than ever.
Dispensaries in LA have heard this kind of talk before, and all operate on the idea that there may be legal battles before them, but with this new round of cooperation between the city attorney’s office and the city council, many are understandably nervous. The ban proposal is now headed to the City’s Planning Committee for a hearing on January 26th, and could face a vote soon after that.
Jane Usher, a special assistant City Attorney said that they are working towards what they are calling a “gentle ban” that would still allow primary caregivers to grow medical marijuana, but not sell it in any kind of retail environment.