Thursday, September 24, 2009
LA Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Sue The City
Pot dispensaries sue L.A. over moratorium
Medical marijuana collectives' suit comes as the city struggles to write
a new ordinance.
By John Hoeffel
September 22, 2009 | 8:46 p.m.
A newly formed association of Los Angeles medical marijuana collectives
has challenged the city's efforts to control dispensaries, claiming in a
lawsuit that the 2-year-old moratorium is unconstitutionally vague and
that the City Council violated state law when it extended the ban until
The lawsuit, filed late Monday, is the first to take aim at the city's
attempts to halt the explosive growth in dispensaries. It comes as the
City Council's Planning Committee continued Tuesday to struggle with a
permanent ordinance to replace the moratorium.
Representatives from the city attorney's office, the district attorney's
office and the Police Department reiterated to the committee their
contention that over-the-counter sales of medical marijuana are illegal
under state law.
Most of the hundreds of dispensaries in Los Angeles currently sell
marijuana that way.
At the same time, Councilman Dennis Zine and other council members
repeated their insistence that any ordinance that did not allow for
marijuana sales would be unworkable, as did many medical marijuana
advocates at the committee hearing.
The lawsuit, filed by the Los Angeles Collective Assn. and the Green
Oasis dispensary, charges that the moratorium is "unreasonable,
discriminatory and overly broad."
It also accuses the City Council of failing to follow required
procedures when it extended the ban. In addition, it claims that the
council is precluded by state law from extending the moratorium beyond
"They're basically operating without an ordinance," said Robert A. Kahn,
an attorney who is representing the association and Green Oasis.
Councilman Ed Reyes, who is overseeing the drafting of an ordinance, was
not surprised by the lawsuit. "It's another sword hanging over our
head," he said. "Now, we have to move as diligently as possible."
But Reyes said an ordinance was still months away.
Jeri Burge with the city attorney's office declined to discuss the
lawsuit's claims. "We're reviewing it," she said.
At a hearing Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge James C.
Chalfant declined to issue a temporary restraining order that would have
barred the city from enforcing the moratorium.
Dan Lutz, a co-owner of Green Oasis and president of the collective
association, said he was motivated to file the lawsuit after the City
Council voted to shut down his dispensary, which he and a partner opened
Lutz, like hundreds of other dispensary owners in Los Angeles, had filed
a request with the City Council for an exemption from the moratorium to
be allowed to operate, but opened without permission.
The council failed to act on these requests until June, an oversight
that prevented city officials from taking legal steps to close the
dispensaries. The council has since denied every request that has come
"We were being railroaded by kangaroo courts," Lutz said. "They were
just denying them out of hand Obviously their intent was just to close
http://www.latimes. com/news/ local/la- me-pot-suit23- 2009sep23, 0,2839881. s\