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Authorities torn about medi-pot clinics

October 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
L.A. City Council members have varying opinions on how to regulate the distribution of medicinal marijuana.The one thing some Los Angeles City Council members say that they can agree on when it comes to medicinal marijuana dispensaries is that there are too many sprouting up in the city.

"Many unscrupulous characters have opened up facilities that are gaming the system and are essentially adding to our complexities of dealing with law enforcement, because they are basically drug outlets," said L.A. City Councilman Ed Reyes.

A judge on Monday threw out the city's moratorium on the opening of more pot dispensaries, so the city attorney's office has sent over a proposal that would allow only cooperatives to dispense medicinal marijuana to its members.

Over-the-counter sales would be banned, and there would be restrictions on where dispensaries can open. For example, they can't open within 1,000 feet from schools and parks.

"Once they're in force, we'll have a tool to regulate this explosion in medical marijuana shops, which are basically pot shops; they are not really serving anyone other than recreational users, and pretty much everybody knows that," said David Berger, assistant L.A. city attorney.

Opinions among members of the city council vary on how to regulate the distribution of medicinal cannabis.

"It's not going to be a situation in Los Angeles, where you have an aching foot, and you go down and you get your prescription and you get marijuana, and you get high," saidn L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine.

"That's not what this is about; this is about serious illnesses and people who need it," Zine added.

"I want to put another tax, a five percent tax, in addition to the nine-and-three-quarters percent they have now. That additional five percent would literally bring in millions of dollars to the city coffers," said L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl.

While some members privately say the council needs to act quickly on passing an ordinance, others are saying that there's no sense of urgency to pass a new one. Through the varying opinions, most agree that whatever is passed will be challenged in court.


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