LA City Council Votes to Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Press Release July 23, 2012
Media Contact

Lynne Lyman 213-210-1023 or 510-229-5215</p>

LOS Angeles—Today the Los Angeles City Council voted 14-0 to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. This latest disruption of safe access to medical marijuana for patients in California is a result of the vacuum of statewide regulation on this issue.

In the absence of state-level guidance and oversight, cities have struggled to develop their own structures for providing safe access to medicine, which are met with variable levels of acceptance in the communities they represent. This also leaves dispensaries vulnerable to Federal interference, without a state-level agency to defend the voter-approved system. In fact, a second appellate court ruling earlier this month found that the LA County dispensary ban was preempted by state law.

Lynne Lyman, California state director for the Drug Policy Alliance released the following statement:

“In today's City Council case, Councilman Huizar made the unrealistic claim that the allowance of three or less patients to cultivate collectively on private property is the same as safe access. Given the urban geography of Los Angeles, and the poor health of many medical cannabis patients, this assertion is simply not correct. Certainly the closing of all dispensaries in Los Angeles will have a sweeping negative impact on the patients who rely on them.

“Yes, other cities have struggled to develop effective means of providing safe access. It is difficult, especially given the lack of state oversight and the constant threat from the Feds. Yet, other cities have done it, and done it successfully since Proposition 215 was passed in 1996. It is possible for cities – even large cities  – to develop regulations and guidelines that create a system that provides for patients, reflects the needs of community, and benefits all those who live there. It is unfortunate that Los Angeles feels they cannot create such a system. Surely it will be the most vulnerable citizens of Los Angeles whom are most affected.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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