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What L.A.'s 'Close Down Your Medical Marijuana Dispensary' Letter Looks Like

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Photo by katherine_hitt via Flickr

Photo by katherine_hitt via Flickr
Letters were sent yesterday to over 400 medical marijuana dispensaries telling them to shut down by June 7th. The reason? They opened during a moratorium set in 2007 while city council tried to figure out how to regulate them. That took three years and Los Angeles' collection of pot shops grew to over 500.

Now a letter being sent to 437 dispensaries is telling them to close up for face consequences. To see exactly what owners are reading, we've obtained the letter from the City Attorney's Office:

Dear Business/Property Owner: On June 7, 2010, Article 5.1 of Chapter IV of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (Medical Marijuana Collective) will become operative. You are being sent this courtesy notice regarding certain limited portions of Article 5.1. We recommend that you review this new article in its entirety, which can be found on the City of Los Angeles website: (under Council File Management System, Council File Nos. 08-0923 and 08-0923-S5).

Section of Article 5.1 provides that medical marijuana establishments that registered with the City Clerk prior to November 13, 2007 and that satisfy several listed conditions may register with the City Clerk under the new article and must comply with its requirements within 180 days.

Conversely, Section of Article 5.1 provides that “any existing medical marijuana collective, dispensary, operator, establishment, or provider that does not comply with the requirements of this article must immediately cease operation….”

The establishment at the above referenced address is operating as a medical marijuana provider and did not register with the City Clerk prior to November 13, 2007. Consequently, this establishment does not, and cannot, comply with the requirements of Article 5.1. Under Section, this establishment must therefore immediately cease its operations.

Please be further advised that Section (A) of Article 5.1 provides that: “It is unlawful for any person to cause, permit or engage in the cultivation, possession, distribution or giving away of marijuana for medical purposes except as provided in this article, and pursuant to any and all other applicable local and state laws.”

Under this section, a property owner may not permit the premises to be used for any medical marijuana activity, and an operator may not engage in the cultivation, possession, distribution or giving away of marijuana for medical purposes, except as provided in Article 5.1.

Violation of any section of the Los Angeles Municipal Code is a misdemeanor, punishable by six months in jail and/or a $1000.00 fine (LAMC § 11.00 (m)) and a nuisance, subject to a daily civil penalty in the amount of $2500.00 (LAMC § 11.00 (l)). In addition to existing remedies under federal, state, and local law, Section of Article 5.1 authorizes the City to seek injunctive relief, revocation of the certificate of
occupancy for the location, disgorgement and payment of any and all monies unlawfully obtained, costs of abatement, costs of investigation and attorney fees.

For questions or advice regarding Article 5.1, please consult your attorney.

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