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City of Fail: Judge Stops L.A. from Enforcing Medical Marijuana Ban for One Dispensary

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Photo by D.C.Atty via Flickr

Photo by D.C.Atty via Flickr
A superior court judge today told Los Angeles city officials in a preliminary injunction that they were the ones breaking the law, not a medical marijuana dispensary that was told it could not operate under a 2007 moratorium--since extended twice--banning new medical marijuana facilities.

"The city cannot rely on an expired ordinance," said Judge James C. Chalfant, citing a state law about extending moratoriums, according to the Los Angeles Times. The law puts limitations on extending moratoriums that deal with zoning. City attorneys say the moratorium is not a zoning issue, but rather a public safety one, therefore should be exempt. Chalfant did not concur.

The court case and injunction is only in relation to one marijuana dispensary, but the ruling could set the city back as it faces hundreds of facilities that opened during the moratorium.

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Today's ruling echoes sentiments expressed earlier this year when KCET's SoCal Connected investigated the issue. While Los Angeles had no or limited regulations on dispensaries prior to the moratorium, other cities like San Francisco and Oakland had laws set in stone and were collecting large annual permit fees.

"In Los Angeles we have the highest paid city council members in the country," vented Paul Lerner, a Melrose area neighborhood activist who agrees with medical marijuana, but not the proliferation of dispensaries on every corner. "What are they doing? Why can't they get their act together and put some basic reasonable sound regulations in place?"