Weekly Wrapup: New Day for Dispensaries in LA + Debate Over State Marijuana Legalization

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The medical marijuana industry can be quite powerful when it gets its act together, as we saw last week when Los Angeles officials axed the city’s ban on cannabis dispensaries.

The move came after MMJ professionals and advocates made a successful, 11th-hour push to thwart the ban by gathering tens of thousands of signatures in just a few days to force a referendum. Rather than go through the costly process of putting the issue in front of voters, the LA City Council decided to abandon the whole plan.

Talk about clout.

As we’ve mentioned before, the national MMJ industry should develop a blueprint based on the LA strategy for how to respond to pressure from local governments. Dozens of communities have faced similar bans over the past couple years, but few have been able to mount an effective resistance. In many cases the local industry was too fractured, unorganized and/or unprepared to put up a fight.

That’s to be expected, as this is still a fledgling business. Over time, the MMJ industry will learn what works and what doesn’t, and it will develop successful strategies to force political change. Examining and learning from the response by the Los Angeles medical cannabis community is a good start.

Also last week, we wrote about how the decision on whether to support state-level medical marijuana initiatives isn’t as clear-cut for some medical cannabis professionals as it seems.

It’s considered blasphemy in MMJ circles to question whether cannabis legalization in Colorado, Oregon and Washington would actually help or hurt the medical cannabis industry in those states. But some dispensary owners and others involved in MMJ are indeed concerned about the effects of legalization on their businesses, fearing it will simply make them a bigger target for the feds.

It’s hard to predict exactly how federal officials will respond, and according to some accounts the government itself doesn’t even know. Supporters of the legalization measures say that the feds simply won’t have the time or resources – or even the desire – to aggressively target businesses selling marijuana if the initiatives pass. They also say getting two or more states to legalize cannabis will send a message to the government that the nation is accepting of marijuana and that people believe the feds should respect states’ rights on the issue.

Given the recent polls showing strong support for the legalization measures in Colorado and Washington State, we’ll likely soon find out how the government will respond, one way or the other.

Other top stories in MMJ Business Daily:

Court Upholds New Jersey Dispensary Rules

Latest Colorado Patient Numbers

Will Obama, Romney Clarify MMJ Position in Debates?

Connecticut Cannabis Program Advances

Guest Column: Industry Needs to Start Taking Testing Seriously