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Smartphone app Nestdrop halts pot deliveries as L.A. court date nears

A judge will hear the case Tuesday against Nestdrop, a medical marijuana delivery smartphone app

With a court date set for Tuesday, officials of the smartphone app Nestdrop have stopped helping medical marijuana dispensaries deliver products as they prepare to tee off in their legal battle with the city of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer filed a court complaint earlier this month against Nestdrop saying that the app -- which offers alcohol and medical marijuana delivery -- violates a law that restricts pot shops in Los Angeles from taking their pot to customers. Nestdrop, which launched in Los Angeles earlier this year, markets itself as the first app-based, on-demand medical marijuana delivery service in the country.

But Nestdrop creators say that they are not breaking the law beacuse they are not handling or distributing marijuna themselves. The app connects patients to collectives, whose workers deliver the marijuana.

"We're a technology company. We have every right to be an app," said co-founder Michael Pycher in an interview with The Times.

Pycher said his company brings more legitimacy and compliance with city rules because they can track everything through the app. "We thought this would be making the city happy," he said.

But Feuer says the app violates Proposition D, which was passed by Los Angeles voters last year and places restrictions on the operation of pot shops. He said it doesn't allow for any kind of medical marijuana delivery.

Pycher says voters passed Proposition D because they wanted to reduce the number of marijuana dispensary storefronts in city neighborhoods, and that Nestdrop furthers that goal by reducing foot traffic to dispensaries as well as the need for more locations.

On Tuesday morning, a judge will determine whether to grant Feuer a preliminary injunction against the company.

With the court date coming up, Nestdrop officials are trying to rally their supporters. Pycher recently posted a YouTube video asking people to share testimonials of how medical marijuana has helped them.

Pycher said in an interview that the app has tens of thousands of users, and the legal action has actually drawn attention to the company. He said they are beta-testing their app in San Francisco, and have plans to expand to San Jose and Oakland soon.

"This is how L.A.'s resources and tax dollars are being used -- to go after and prosecute the services these people rely on rather than encourate innovation to help stimulate small business," Pycher says in the video. "Who really benefits from that? Who are you actually helping?"

Feuer has been working to shut down marijuana dispensaries that don't qualify under Proposition D. He announced this month that he has overseen the closure of 402 medical marijuana dispensaries, about half of those existing when he took office less than a year and a half ago.

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