On the eve of Thanksgiving – when many people had already checked out for the holiday week – a councilman in Los Angeles introduced a proposal that could have profound effects on the medical pot industry in California.
City Council member Jose Huizar’s plan calls for a complete ban on MMJ dispensaries in Los Angeles, following the lead of several other large cities in California. The move would force more than 300 pot shops to close in what is widely known as the medical marijuana capital of the United States, putting thousands of Californians out of work and changing the entire MMJ landscape. Just as importantly, it could convince other cities in the state to go the same route, in effect decimating the industry in California.
Huizar – who said he actually supports medical pot – reasons that Los Angeles has no choice but to ban dispensaries in light of a court ruling last month involving Long Beach. The state court of appeals essentially ruled that the city’s medical cannabis ordinance – which sets up a regulatory framework for dispensaries – conflicts with federal laws and is therefore illegal.
With that as the backdrop, Huizar says that Los Angeles cannot enforce its own medical pot laws, meaning marijuana dispensaries could potentially pop up all over town. He envisions a ban as a way to stave off a proliferation of pot centers until the state’s Supreme Court weighs in on the issue.
The city recently passed tighter restrictions and new rules that limit the number of MMCs to 100. That has helped bring the total number of dispensaries down from 800 to 300, but the city is not yet at the target level. Huizar said many of these dispensaries are operating without permits or are not in full compliance with city and state laws governing medical marijuana.
Pot advocates say that a ban would hurt patients and small businesses and potentially boost crime as people turn to illegal means to buy medical pot.
Still, the outcome is far from decided, as many council members have supported medical cannabis initiatives in the past.