Pot Ordinance Goes to Court

L.A.'s new medical marijuana ordinance is hit with a lawsuit to stop it in its tracks, arguing that its distance requirements from residences and other "sensitive uses" amounts to a complete ban in violation of due process rights.

Story continues below

Local medical pot activist and action group Americans for Safe Access, along with some local dispensaries, filed the suit today. The reasons why, from its press release:

"The dispensary ordinance passed by the Los Angeles City Council might have been reasonable, if not for some onerous provisions," said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who filed the lawsuit today. "The requirement to find a new location within 7 days is completely unreasonable and undermines the due process of otherwise legal medical marijuana dispensaries." Despite spending more than two years to develop regulations, the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance without maps to show where dispensaries could locate in order to comply with the law.

Among other restrictive provisions, the Los Angeles regulations require that dispensaries "notify the City Clerk within one week after the effective date of this ordinance of their intention to register...at an identified location." The lawsuit's plaintiffs, Venice Beach Care Center and PureLife Alternative Wellness Center, two dispensaries that have operated in Los Angeles since before the city's moratorium, call the 7-day requirement to find a new site unnecessarily prohibitive. Plaintiffs further argue that without the assistance of maps such a requirement is inconceivable.

The full text of the lawsuit, which insists that the ordinance "violates due process, since plaintiffs have a vested right to operate their collectives, which cannot be deprived in such an unreasonable manner. For this reason, plaintiffs bring the instant action for injunctive relief," including a "declaration that [the ordinance] is unlawful and unconstitutional."

The ordinance itself.

The L.A. Weekly reports on the lawsuit filing, which gets a city comment and notes the new ordinance isn't even really in effect yet:

City Attorney's spokesman Frank Meteljian told LA Weekly his office hasn't seen the suit yet, but that "we're ready to defend the city ordinance whenever necessary."

He noted that the ordinance has yet to take effect because the City Council has yet to approve a fee schedule that would then start a 30-day clock for the law to kick in. (We ribbed the City Council about its foot-dragging ways on the matter in late 2009, wondering aloud if the body would ever get a rule in place before the new year. It's March).

City of Angles on the passing of the ordinance.

The image associated with this post was taken by Flickr user Ann Althouse. It was used under user Creative Commons license.

We are dedicated to providing you with articles like this one. Show your support with a tax-deductible contribution to KCET. After all, public media is meant for the public. It belongs to all of us.

Keep Reading