Sacramento should clarify California’s hazy medical marijuana laws. But the L.A. City Council bears the bulk of the responsibility for the mess locally.
The City Council banned dispensaries after a court decision indicated that issuing a limited number of dispensary permits could be preempted by federal law. But the state Supreme Court dismissed that case, and it is only binding in Long Beach.
Meanwhile, the court is considering whether banning dispensaries violates state law. If the council’s goal was to avoid a legal mess, it failed miserably.
After advocates launched a referendum to let voters have the final say on L.A.'s ban, the council directed the Police Department to work with federal agents to shut down dispensaries.
Calling in the Drug Enforcement Agency is an affront to the democratic process and to patients. The city should follow the path of West Hollywood and San Francisco and regulate dispensaries.
The writer is director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project.
Of course our pot policy is a shambles. Medical marijuana is a shabby joke, one that provides a fig leaf for the illicit distribution of pot.
We already have lots of businesspeople running clean, safe stores serving sick people. We call them “drugstores,” and Los Angeles is simply awash in them. During Prohibition, people who could obtain a note from their doctors were able to buy booze at drugstores.
Today, “businesspeople” have added hundreds of dispensaries to serve the multitudes suffering the kinds of ailments for which the only cure is a joint. That’s as credible as “student athletes.”
The problem does not lie fully with Sacramento. When he was attorney general, Jerry Brown issued guidelines clarifying Proposition 215, the ballot measure allowing medical marijuana in California. Many cities successfully implemented these guidelines. Now even these reasonable regulations have been hammered into the ground by the feds.
The problem in California is twofold. First, several local governments have ignored state sovereignty and the will of the people by running to the feds to work out any conflicts. Second, professional law enforcement organizations are reluctant to turn down the federal money that addicts them to drug grants and profits from asset-seizure programs.
Consequently, our local police officers have become drug warriors. This war has undermined the health, safety and stability of our communities and denied medical marijuana patients safe access to their medicine. It has gone on long enough.
The writer, a retired Los Angeles Police Department deputy chief, is a board member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.