L.A. Dispensary Crackdown: ‘Moral Crusade Must Be Stopped’


Photo: Opposing Views
Protestors gather at a California Narcotics Officers’ Association seminar on “Eradicating Medical Cannabis Dispensaries in the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County”

​Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed an amicus “friend of the court” brief Friday in an attempt to intervene in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s effort to shut down registered cannabis dispensaries.

In particular, ASA filed a brief refuting the city attorney’s argument that sales are illegal, raised in lawsuits against two Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensaries, Organica and Holistic Caregivers.
ASA also argued in the brief that City Attorney Carmen Trutanich took preemptive enforcement action before the local ordinance has even taken effect.

A hearing on the lawsuit’s motion for preliminary injunction is scheduled for Tuesday, April 13 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Photo: ASA
Joe Elford, ASA: “The city attorney’s moral crusade to shut down otherwise lawful dispensaries must be stopped”

​”It’s clear that the city attorney is attempting to shut down dispensaries on the basis that sales are illegal, and before the Los Angeles ordinance even goes into effect,” said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford. “It’s a disingenuous interpretation of state law to say that collectives cannot sell medical marijuana.”
“The city attorney’s moral crusade to shut down otherwise lawful dispensaries must be stopped,” Elford said.
On February 18, in a series of aggressive actions against Los Angeles area dispensaries, City Attorney Trutanich orchestrated multiple law enforcement raids, sent at least 18 “eviction letters” to landlords of city dispensaries, and filed three “nuisance and narcotic abatement” lawsuits against two dispensary operators, claiming that sales are illegal.
With about a month to go before the Los Angeles dispensary ordinance takes effect, advocates are calling the actions preemptive and deplorable.
A final City Council hearing on amending the ordinance to include a permit fee is scheduled for April 13. If approved, the ordinance will go into effect 30 days after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs it into law.

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 hard, too.

​Last October, Trutanich and District Attorney Steve 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 California Narcotics Officers’ Association (CNOA), a rabid opponent of medical marijuana.
Then, in November, after ASA threatened to sue Los Angeles is the city outlawed medical marijuana sales, a compromise was thought to have been reached between the council and the city attorney. However, public statements and recent enforcement actions have thrown into doubt whether City Attorney Trutanich and District Attorney Cooley ever planned on honoring the regulatory ordinance, according to ASA.
Cooley commented in a November public radio interview that the city council’s actions to legalize medical marijuana sales were “irrelevant, meaningless, and… reckless,” and his office would enforce the law “despite what the city council [does].”
City Attorney Trutanich also publicly repeated his position in a January public radio 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.”
The city attorney’s lead cause of action in its 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. (See 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 Legislature, the courts, and California Attorney General Jerry Brown.
More Information
ASA amicus brief opposing L.A. City Attorney’s legal efforts to shut down dispensaries (PDF)
Press released from L.A. City Attorney’s office on February enforcement actions (PDF)
Los Angeles dispensary ordinance (PDF)