All L.A. County medical pot dispensaries face prosecution, district attorney says

By Terrapinzflyer · Oct 9, 2009 · Updated Oct 9, 2009 · ·
  1. Terrapinzflyer
    All L.A. County medical pot dispensaries face prosecution, district attorney says

    Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said today that all the medical marijuana dispensaries in the county are operating illegally, and that "they are going to be prosecuted."

    There are hundreds of dispensaries throughout the county, including as many as 800 in the city of Los Angeles, according to the city attorney's office. They operate under a 1996 voter initiative that allowed marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes, and a subsequent state law that provided for collective cultivation.

    Based on a state Supreme Court decision last year, Cooley and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich have concluded that over-the-counter sales are illegal. Most if not all of the dispensaries in the state operate on that basis.

    Cooley said his office had already begun preparing to prosecute a Culver City dispensary called Organica.

    Widespread criminal prosecutions could deal a sharp blow to the medical marijuana movement in California, where advocates have argued that access to the drug has helped many cancer patients and others manage pain, nausea and other health issues.

    Cooley and Trutanich announced their plans after a training session for narcotics officers at the Montebello Country Club. Outside about 100 medical marijuana advocates protested, saying that not allowing over-the-counter sales threatens the distribution of a product that many sick people have come to rely on.

    Barry Kramer, operator of the California Patient Alliance, a dispensary on Melrose Avenue, said, "If this is the way it goes, we'll go underground again. There will be a lot more crime."

    -- John Hoeffel

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  1. Herbal Healer 019
    Way to go Obama! Thanks for the change;)
  2. fnord
    Sweet! Im sure the state will be so excited about all the money coming in from court fines during this financial crisis.
  3. Terrapinzflyer
    @H_H Obama has nothing to do with this. ;)

    California, in its wisdom, has very poorly defined laws on the matter. And there are many dispensaries/growers/patients pushing the boundaries of even the most liberal interpertations of the law.

    Turtle wonders if the initiative to legalize personal use passes next year if it will lead to an even tighter crackdown on the med mj industry...

    any way you look at it this issue is going to be tied up in courts in CA for years to come...
  4. Terrapinzflyer
    LA County DA pledges to prosecute medical marijuana distributors
    As far as L.A. County district attorney Steve Cooley is concerned, most medical marijuana dispensaries in the area are illegal. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says he's pledged to prosecute.

    The tension between illegal dope and prescription-only medical marijuana has ramped up in the last few years. Even though California voters approved medical marijuana 13 years ago, the federal government considers it contraband.

    So does Los Angeles DA Steve Cooley. He’s especially piqued that a loophole in an L.A. city ordinance has given rise to as many as 800 marijuana dispensaries within city limits. Cooley and L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich regard all over-the-counter pot sales as illegal, and they told narcotics officers at a training session that they plan to hit back at those sales with criminal prosecutions.

    Advocates for medical marijuana use picketed that training. They say it helps to relieve the pain, nausea, and weight loss associated with a variety of illnesses. If the district attorney has his way, the patients and sellers who rely on palliative pot may have to tell that to the judge.
  5. Herbal Healer 019
    Really?! well what was all that bullshit in his campaign such as his statement about decriminalizing marijuana which he later retracted & him vowing to end medical marijauna dispensaries? This basically falls into that category & the president promised changed instead of the same. Why isn't he stepping in and standing up for the MMJ dispensaries as he vowed to?
  6. Motorhead
    Obama said he doesn't want the DEA, a federal agency, interfering with the dispensaries. This article is about the State of California and it's intentions regarding the dispensaries. Obama has no control over state policies.
  7. Herbal Healer 019
    Well the shits all F'd up is all im tryna say...You'd think the prez would b able to throw a lil divine intervention in on the situation; I mean he inhaled dude.

    But yea my mistake I guess this doesn't have anything to do with Obama, thanks for correctin me.
  8. chillinwill
    Los Angeles DA: ‘About 100%’ of medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal

    In spite of a law on California books for over a decade which allows the sale of medical cannabis to properly licensed patients, the district attorney in Los Angeles County is preparing an all-out legal assault against the "vast majority" of dispensaries.

    "Hundreds of dispensaries operate under a 1996 voter initiative that allowed medical marijuana use, and a state law that allows for collective growing of marijuana," NBC Los Angeles reported. "But based on a state Supreme Court decision last year, [LA County District Attorney Steve] Cooley has concluded that over-the-counter sales are illegal. Most if not all of the dispensaries in the state operate on that basis."

    "The vast, vast, vast majority, about 100%, of dispensaries in Los Angeles County and the city are operating illegally, they are dealing marijuana illegally, according to our theory," Cooley said, according to The Los Angeles Times. "The time is right to deal with this problem."

    That "problem" -- over the counter sales of marijuana to licensed patients -- accounted for some $18 million in tax revenue for the state last year, reported The Christian Science-Monitor, during a time when California is facing the greatest budgetary challenges in its history.

    However, those with prescriptions for marijuana account for roughly 10 percent of the state's marijuana users, according to a California NORML report (PDF link) prepared for the Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance.

    "In a radio interview on KABC-AM (790), Cooley reiterated his plan to close down many of the 800 to 900 medical marijuana shops believed to be operating in the city of Los Angeles," noted the Contra-Costa Times.

    "We will give them fair notice and, hopefully, they will see the light and voluntarily close down," Cooley reportedly said. "We are going to uphold the laws of California."

    The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a group which advocates the nation-wide legalization of cannabis for adults, strongly disagrees.

    "Last year, the state’s attorney general issued a legal opinion that clearly stated that 'a properly organized and operated collective or cooperative that dispenses medical marijuana through a storefront may be lawful under California law,'" MPP noted in Opposing Views. "Maybe Cooley didn’t get the memo."

    They continued: "If Cooley is somehow successful in eliminating L.A.'s medical marijuana facilities, the effect would be disastrous for patients forced to find their medicine in the underground market and would be a boon to the violent drug cartels that often supply that market. Voters in Los Angeles — who overwhelmingly support medical marijuana — are probably scratching their heads trying to figure out why their district attorney wants to enrich criminal drug dealers at the expense of patients."

    "Cooley and other officials say that in addition to selling to minors and others who do not use the drug for medical purposes, some of the dispensaries sell marijuana laced heavily with insecticides that endanger users even as they help finance Mexican drug cartels," Contra-Costa added.

    There are three voter-sponsored initiatives circulating California at the moment which seek to put complete legalization and taxation of marijuana on the state-wide ballot in 2010, according to the Orange County Register.

    "If one of these initiatives passes, California would become the first state to legalize marijuana and impose a tax on it, a move proponents say could help get the state out of an unprecedented budget crisis," the paper reported.

    DA Cooley's first targeted dispensary is "Organica," in Culver City, according to Mercury News.

    "We have our strategy and we think we are on good legal ground," Cooley said, the LA Times noted.

    Marijuana is California's most valuable cash crop, responsible for over $14 billion in annual sales, according to Time magazine. If legalized and taxed, it could produce $1.3 billion or more in revenues for the state, California tax collectors have estimated.

    By Stephen C. Webster
    October 10, 2009
    The Raw Story
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