Hundreds of medical marijuana collectives throughout Los Angeles, including several in the Venice area, were expected to have shut down Monday, June 7th as the city began enforcing its ordinance regulating dispensaries.
The shutdown comes after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge late last month denied a request by some medical marijuana dispensaries for a temporary restraining order.
City attorneys said they sent out letters to 439 dispensary operators and property owners informing them that the new law would take effect June 7th and warning that violations are misdemeanors that could lead to criminal charges and penalties of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Collectives that remain open after the June 7th deadline could also face civil penalties of $2,500 per day.
The ordinance is expected to reduce the number of dispensaries allowed to operate in the city to between 70 and 130. Those facilities that opened prior to a moratorium in 2007 will be given six months to comply with the new regulations that some operators claim will force many into new locations.
The new law restricts dispensaries to at least 1,000 feet away from schools, parks, religious institutions, or other “sensitive” locations, as well as from other collectives. The dispensaries also can not be located on a lot adjacent to residences.
City officials said hundreds of the collectives opened throughout the city during the moratorium as they took advantage of a hardship exemption, and the new ordinance was created to regulate the number operating. City attorneys said the law would not prevent members of collectives from having access to the medicinal drug.
Following the City Council’s approval, some dispensaries filed lawsuits claiming that patients would be prohibited from accessing medical marijuana. As the ordinance took effect, some medical marijuana proponents continued to denounce the law.
“This new ordinance is all but guaranteed to have a disastrous impact on Los Angeles,” said Aaron Smith, California policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “By imposing zoning laws on medical marijuana collectives that are stricter than those for gun dealers, adult entertainment businesses, alcohol vendors or pharmacies, the city is placing an undue burden on thousands of medical marijuana patients whose quality of life may depend on safe and reliable access to their medicine.”