June 2nd, 2009 – A Los Angeles City Council committee today will consider eliminating a loophole that would allow nearly 500 medical marijuana dispensaries to operate despite a temporary ban that went into effect in the fall of 2007.
Two years ago, the city council approved a temporary moratorium on new medical marijuana dispensaries. The purpose of the interim ordinance, which will expire on Sept. 14, was to give city leaders time to draft regulations that limit where and how dispensaries can operate in Los Angeles.
California voters 13 years ago approved Proposition 215, which made it legal to sell marijuana to certain patients with a doctor’s prescription.
The drug is still considered illegal under federal law and Drug Enforcement Administration agents have raided dispensaries throughout Southern California. But Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced those raids would end.
Clinics that were already established at the time the ban was approved had until Nov. 13, 2007, to register with the city. By submitting a business tax registration certificate, state seller’s permit, property lease and proof of insurance, those businesses were allowed to remain open.
However, a loophole in the temporary ban allowed clinics to file “hardship exemptions,” which provide dispensary owners with the opportunity to defend why they should continue to do business without fulfilling those requirements. Hardship exemptions are considered to be a routine part of city ordinances.