Medical Marijuana Advocates Accuse L.A. City Attorney Of Entrapment

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Photo: Shay Sowden/LAist

​Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) responded Tuesday to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s latest effort to shut down registered dispensaries by threatening to intervene in the lawsuits the city filed recently against raided collectives Organica and Holistic Caregivers.

According to ASA, Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has taken preemptive enforcement action before dispensaries have a chance to comply with the recently adopted regulatory ordinance, which took more than two years to write and pass.
“It’s clear that the City Attorney is attempting to intimidate and close dispensaries before the Los Angeles ordinance even goes into effect,” said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford.


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Photo: ASA
Joe Elford, ASA: “The City Attorney’s legal arguments are horribly flawed and have no basis in law”

​”The Los Angeles City Attorney and District Attorney’s contempt for the City Council and its recently adopted ordinance is unacceptable and must be stopped,” said Elford, who wrote a letter to City Attorney Trutanich and District Attorney Steve Cooley, threatening to join the lawsuits on behalf of patients.
City Attorney Trutanich sent at least 18 “eviction letters” to landlords of Los Angeles dispensaries and filed three “nuisance and narcotic abatement” lawsuits against two dispensary operators, claiming that sales are illegal.
Trutanich took these actions on February 18, the same day a multi-agency law enforcement raid took place at a registered medical marijuana dispensary.
With less than a month left before the Los Angeles dispensary ordinance goes into effect, advocates are calling the actions deplorable.
Last October, Trutanich and Cooley both attended a symposium on “The Eradication of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County,” hosted by the extremist California Narcotic Officers’ Association (CNOA), which adamantly opposes medical marijuana.

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Photo: Ross Berteig
Los Angeles County D.A. Steve Cooley: “Approximately zero” dispensaries are legal

​Soon after, during City Council deliberations on an ordinance to regulate dispensaries, Cooley commented in a November 18 interview on Public Radio’s “AirTalk” that the Council’s actions to legalize medical marijuana sales were “irrelevant, meaningless, and… reckless.”
D.A. Cooley said his office would “enforce the laws of the State of California, despite what the City Council [does].”
City Attorney Trutanich backed up Cooley’s extreme assertion, commenting in a January AirTalk interview that “Sales are illegal under state law.”
Advocates argue that the actions of the City Attorney and District Attorney not only amount to entrapment, but they also violate state law.
“It goes without saying that dispensaries deserve the due process right to comply with the city’s ordinance regulating them,” Elford said. “But, worse than that, the City Attorney’s legal arguments are horribly flawed and have no basis in law.”

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Photo: L.A. District Attorney’s Office
Dumb and dumber: L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley (left) and City Attorney Carmen “Nuch” Trutanich really hate medical marijuana dispensaries. They probably think you suck, too.

​Trutanich’s lead cause of action in litigation to shut down registered dispensaries is based on a nuisance statute that the Legislature exempted in SB 420, the Medical Marijuana Program act of 2003 (Health & Safety Code Section 11362.775).
The City Attorney also relies on the argument that medical marijuana “sales” are illegal under state law, something refuted by the California Legislature, the courts, and State Attorney General Jerry Brown.
A compromise was thought to have been reached between the Council and the City attorney in November, after ASA threatened to sue Los Angeles if the city outlawed medical marijuana sales. However, public statements and recent enforcement actions “throw into doubt whether the City Attorney and District Attorney ever planned on honoring the regulatory ordinance,” according to Kris Hermes, media specialist with ASA.

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Graphic: Reality Catcher
Here’s an example of the “quality” of information provided by the California Narcotic Officers’ Association (CNOA). Click on the image to enlarge for better viewing.

​”If the City Attorney refuses to withdraw the lawsuits and recant the eviction letters, ASA will challenge the lawsuits as an intervening defendant, representing the interests of medical marijuana patients,” Hermes said.
Chief Deputy City Attorney William W. Carter told John Hoeffel at the Los Angeles Times that he had not seen ASA’s letter. “I’ve read their press release, and I am not impressed,” Carter said.
“We obviously don’t agree with their position,” Carter said. “We
are enforcing the existing local and state laws just as we’ve been doing for a long time.”
Carter said the City Attorney’s office would not withdraw the lawsuits. “We don’t respond to threats,” he said.
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