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When I posted a story a week ago suggesting that Fullerton should consider opening itself up to medical marijuana dispensaries in an organized and proper way, I started off the story saying that “cities across California are backing down and rolling over when it comes to Administration pressure against medical marijuana dispensaries, closing them down and refusing to license new ones, denying the citizenry the benefits of this law.”
I just didn’t realize that it would happen this quickly.
The Los Angeles City Council voted 14-0 today to ban medical marijuana dispensaries — leaving patients dependent on the drug for pain relief and appetite stimulation in the lurch. It also left the door open for the self-proclaimed libertarian majority on Fullerton’s City Council to declare the city open to a decent number of well-regulated and lawful dispensaries, in a well-planned and profitable fashion, should it so choose.
The new L.A. law is draconian. As apparently reluctant supporter Councilman Paul Koretz said, “we have shut off almost every way that a normal person can get access to marijuana,” adding “it will be a ban until otherwise noted.”
The LA Times reports:
Under the ban, each of the 762 dispensaries that have registered with the city will be sent a letter ordering them to shut down immediately. Those that don’t comply may face legal action from the city.
Medical marijuana activists who had packed the council chambers jeered when the vote came down. More than a dozen Los Angeles Police Department officers were called in to quell them.
Under the ban, medical patients and their caregivers will be able to grow and share the drug in small groups of three people or less.
But the activists say most patients don’t have the time or skills to cultivate marijuana. One dispensary owner told the council that it would cost patients a minimum of $5,000 to grow marijuana at home.
If Fullerton wanted to put its budget situation in order, it could set up clean and well-lighted districts with plenty of police supervision and carefully vetted and regulated owners. It could snag a great deal of Los Angeles’s legitimate business, making substantial revenue off of both hefty business licenses and sales taxes. The people of Los Angeles will want somewhere to go — and, what do you know, the 5, 91, and 57 all pass through Fullerton. ”Dispensary City” could be a monthly destination for patients — and it could be as safe as the city chose to make it. The city could listen to legitimate complaints about past practices and do a better job of it, keeping to the confines of Prop 215.
Of course, my hometown of Brea, or Santa Ana, Anaheim, Irvine, or anywhere else could do this as well. Fullerton, though, now has a council majority that identifies itself as truly libertarian, not as just economically libertarian. It’s the city that can do what must be done to make this happen — very soon, before the LA dispensaries close.
Or, Fullerton could join most of the rest of the Southland in letting people suffer and be turned into law-breakers. It’s really just a matter of philosophy — and transcending fear of the Feds.