The Los Angeles City Council has recently passed an ordinance limiting the number and location of medicinal marijuana dispensaries. This happened after two or three years of the council dithering and bickering over the issue, during which time - and despite a moratorium - something like 700 dispensaries opened, turning L.A into a pot - er, medicinal marijuana - mecca. A fair number of people, concerned about crime, etc., were not, to say the least, getting a good buzz from this.
I have to say that this mess was caused by Proposition 215, the passage of which made California the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana despite the federal ban. I voted for Prop. 215 and am still all for it in principle. I very much believe that people who are ill, in pain, can’t hold down food, etc. should have easy access to the soothing herb and not fear getting arrested. The problem is that it was written so sloppily, leaving everyone confused if not dazed.
Now, the L.A ordinance is being called one of the toughest, and the med-pot advocates are now the ones grumbling. Among other things, the ordinance dictates
...that there be no more than 70 dispensaries (actually about 150 with the old ones that can stay).
...that a dispensary can’t be within 1,000 feet of a school, park, library, place of worship and other such "sensitive" sites.
...that the dispensaries have to close at 8 p.m, and that the cannabis can’t be consumed on the premises.
What I’m wondering is, what’s so wrong with there being strict regulations?
Yes, some of the restrictions are a bit too strict and unfair - like the one prohibiting a dispensary from operating across the street or an alley from residential properties. This will make it far more difficult to find a location. But, for the most part, the restrictions make perfect sense.
For example, why would someone who is ill or in pain want to go out and get medicine at 11 at night? It is better to go in the daytime, when it is easier to get around and more help is available.
And why shouldn’t the dispensaries be prohibited, as I believe they will be under the new law, from having names such as "Temple 420" and being decorated with big, neon pot leaves and red, yellow, green and black paint jobs?
Such displays, as well as being open late at night and other things, feeds the argument that medicinal marijuana is being used as a way to get pot for recreational use. Don’t get me started on those doctors in Hawaiian print shirts who sit in empty offices and hand out prescriptions for marijuana to anyone who claims to have a headache or writer’s cramp.
Giving relief to those who are sick or in pain is a very legitimate, very serious business, and it should be seen and done as such. Otherwise, medicinal marijuana will be another Cheech and Chong comedy, and that would be a tragedy.
I have long argued that Claremont should have a medicinal marijuana dispensary. With all its professors and strong community activists, Claremont can show how to do it in the right, serious, caring way. Very sadly, after a smart aleck opened a dispensary without a permit from the city, the City Council, after voting to allow dispensaries, took the opposite tack, reversed its earlier decision and banned dispensaries in Claremont.