Los Angeles Sued Over Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ban



The medical marijuana dispensary ban in Los Angeles is scheduled to kick in on September 6, but a lawsuit and a petition drive both aim to stop the ban and preserve safe access for patients.

The city council in July unanimously(!) passed an ordinance that bans dispensaries, Andrew Chow reports at FindLaw. More than 760 medicinal cannabis access points were registered at that time to operate in L.A.
The city has sent letters out to more than a thousand locations believed to be pot clubs, warning them about potential fines and even jail time if they don’t close down by the deadline.
But at least one lawsuit asserts that the city is acting unlawfully.

A group called the Patient Care Association, along with 11 medical marijuana patients, is asking for a court order that stops the new Los Angeles dispensary ban from taking effect, according to a copy of the lawsuit [PDF] obtained by L.A.’s KNBC-TV.
The lawsuit asserts, among other things, thats:
• California’s medical marijuana law preempts city bans on dispensaries;
• L.A.’s law violates the right to due process of dispensary owners; and
• The ban violates patients’ constitutional freedom to associate and assemble for purposes of cultivating medical marijuana, legal in California since 1996 with a doctor’s recommendation.
In addition to the injunction request, a petition signature drive is underway to try to get the new ban repealed, according to the Los Angeles Times. If organizers can gather 27,400 valid voter signatures, the issue could be placed on the March 2013 ballot; the ban would be temporarily suspended until then.
If both these last-ditch efforts fail, the days of Los Angeles’ once-booming medical marijuana dispensary scene are likely coming to a close. Shops that don’t close their doors by September 6 could face fines of $2,500 a day, and their owners could face possible jail time, according to the new ordinance.