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While Tacoma considers how to regulate medical cannabis firms, LA bans them

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on July 25, 2012 at 7:35 pm with No Comments »
July 26, 2012 10:21 am

Tuesday, while the City of Tacoma was detailing a new proposal to regulate medical cannabis grow operations, the City of Los Angeles unanimously voted to ban medical pot businesses in that city.

From the LA Times:

In what could be a turning point in the city’s seemingly unending battle to regulate the distribution of medical marijuana, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to ban all pot dispensaries, while also opening the door to possibly let some remain.

Under the ban, all of the 762 dispensaries registered in the city will be sent letters ordering them to shut down immediately. Those that don’t comply may face legal action from the city. (Full story)

As we reported , Tacoma’s City Council had introduced a new measure that seeks to regulate so-called medical marijuana “collective gardens” under the city’s nuisance code.  It largely deals with collective gardens and how to restrict them from certain sensitive areas in the city.

Meantime, medical cannabis dispensaries in the city largely are left unaddressed, with city officials saying the state’s medical cannabis law provides no meaningful direction for regulating such distribution centers.  The lack of a dispensary plan means those firms will be viewed the same way the city viewed them two years ago: as illegal.  At the time, the explosion of dispensaries — and the city’s uneven response to them — is what sparked the council to try to figure out how to deal with medical pot businesses.

Not every one is happy about with the Tacoma council, which scrapped a far more permissive measure that called to authorize medical cannabis dispensaries and gardens as permitted uses under the city’s zoning and land use codes.

Pro-medical cannabis attorney Jay Berneburg said, that by declaring collective gardens a public nuisance, the council’s new measure “amounts to a complete ban” on medical cannabis.  City officials disagree, insisting the proposal’s intent is to try to provide safe access to qualified patients, while controlling impacts to neighborhoods.

Council members expect to tinker with the proposal, which was largely drafted by City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli.  She had advised the council that elements of the previous zoning proposal ran counter to federal marijuana prohibitions and if adopted, could put city workers at legal risk.

Council members already have said they plan to amend or strike entirely a section in the new measure that seeks to declare collective gardens a public nuisance in 20 of the city zoning districts.

“There’ll be an amendment to strike that (section) entirely,” Councilman Ryan Mello told me today. “I think that went a bit too far.”

The council is expected to vote on the measure at its regular meeting next Tuesday.

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