Pubdate: Fri, 02 Dec 2011
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2011 Los Angeles Times
Author: John Hoeffel
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


The City Is Targeting Nine Stores That Are Within 600 Schools, 
Persues Penalties

Los Angeles has sued nine medical marijuana dispensaries to force 
them to close immediately and permanently, even as more boldly open 
throughout the city, often in prominent locations.

With hundreds of dispensaries in L.A., City Atty. Carmen Trutanich 
decided to target those within 600 feet of a school, a violation of 
state law. The city is seeking civil penalties of up to $5,000 a day 
if the dispensaries defy the lawsuits and remain open.

"These are the ones that have been brought to our attention. There 
could be others that are within 600 feet of schools," said Asha 
Greenberg, the assistant city attorney who leads the effort to shut 
down illegal dispensaries. "If we do see more of them cropping up 
this close to schools, or we become aware of them, then we certainly 
are going to take action against them."

The lawsuits, which were filed Nov. 15, may be followed by more next 
week. The city has already sued about 40 dispensaries and about a 
quarter have closed, Greenberg said.

It is unclear how many dispensaries Los Angeles has, but 372 
marijuana businesses filed by the Oct. 31 deadline to begin paying 
the city's 5% business tax on gross receipts. City officials estimate 
that there were once as many as 850, but they believe the number has 
since dropped.

Recently, however, more have started to open, irritating neighborhood 
councils. The East Hollywood Neighborhood Council voted unanimously 
to support a ban. In January, a ban may be debated by the City 
Council. Some council members are concerned by the costly legal 
battle to shut shops down and a court decision that raised doubts 
about whether cities can regulate medical marijuana sales.

"We do get complaints literally every day, so we're trying to catch 
up," said Greenberg, who acknowledged that the ongoing legal battles 
are expensive and time-consuming. "It's very resource intensive, and 
these cases are very heavily litigated."

In the lawsuits, the city argues that the dispensaries violate a 
state law that prohibits them within 600 feet of a school. Montana 
Caregivers on Victory Boulevard in Valley Glen, for example, is in a 
corner strip mall next to Laurence School, a private elementary 
campus with 315 students.

The city's ordinance excludes dispensaries within 1,000 feet of a 
school, but Greenberg said the city did not sue based on that 
requirement because the ordinance has been the target of extensive litigation.

The city also sued Absolute Herbal Pain Solutions and La Brea 
Collective in Mid-Wilshire, Greencare Givers and Organic Heaven 
Cooperative in Hollywood, Colorado Quality Pain Relief and Organic 
Healing Center in Eagle Rock, My Green Garden in Sherman Oaks and 
Kind Meds Collective Care in Encino.
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