LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously
on Friday to amend its medical marijuana ordinance, about a month after a judge deemed certain provisions unconstitutional.
The changes include legitimizing dispensaries that opened on or before Sept. 14, 2007, and banning the rest; establishing a lottery to determine which dispensaries can remain at their current location and which must move; and easing restrictions on patient information that must be turned over to police.
The original ordinance specified only dispensaries that opened on or before a Sept. 14, 2007, moratorium on new stores, and registered on or before Nov. 13, 2007, deadline, would be allowed to continue operating.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Anthony Mohr struck down that provision, however, saying the moratorium was improperly extended and therefore created confusion among dispensary owners.
He suggested the ordinance instead be amended to allow all dispensaries that existed before a certain date, and ban the rest.
The “temporary urgency ordinance” approved on Friday does just that, setting the date at Sept. 14, 2007.
A requirement from the original ordinance that dispensaries be at least 1,000 feet from schools, public parks, libraries and religious institutions, as well as each other, was left intact, as was the prohibition on dispensaries being “on a lot abutting, across the street or alley from, or having a common corner with” residential property.
To break up clusters of dispensaries, the council agreed to select only 100 of them to undergo inspections, and then hold a lottery to determine their order on a “priority list.” Those at the top of the list will get the first pick of locations.
Councilman Ed Reyes conceded “the lottery makes it harder to make decisions based on merit, because it’s lottery, it’s by chance, but it’s what we can do the quickest, given our budget circumstances.”
“Our dilemma is that any kind of complicated process that starts evaluating each entity will take a lot of personnel, and a lot of time, both of which we don’t have,” he said.
The judge also blocked a provision requiring dispensaries to give police access to the names, addresses and phone numbers of patients — even without a search warrant.
The amended ordinance will allow patients to provide only a county-issued medical marijuana card, which does not contain personal information.
Violations of the original ordinance were punishable as misdemeanors.
But since Mohr argued that state law preempts criminal enforcement, the council agreed Friday to rely instead on instead on “civil remedies” such as fines.
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