L.A. is Trying To Weed Out Pot Sellers
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L.A. is Trying To Weed Out Pot Sellers
Posted by CN Staff on June 28, 2009 at 03:50:03 PT
By John Hoeffel
Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles, CA -- A city inspector dropped by the Bulldog Cafe Collective on Melrose Avenue last week to see if it was still in business. It was. Inside the spare, modern interior, dusky green marijuana buds were still displayed in plastic jars. An owner who is often at the store tweezed whimsically named strains into small vials for customers.The store near Hancock Park is among the first 14 medical marijuana dispensaries targeted for extinction by a City Council chagrined that it allowed hundreds to open in Los Angeles despite a 21-month-old moratorium.
The inspections start the process to shut them down. At least one, in Atwater Village, has already closed. But others remain open, weighing their legal options.City officials plan to decide this week on the next enforcement step.On Monday, the council will accelerate its drive to roll back the number of dispensaries, holding hearings on 29 more. "We were trying to factor in a significant number so that we can make some headway," said Councilman Ed Reyes, the chairman of the planning committee. "I thought we were going too slow."As the council embarks on this effort, it faces some obstacles.The task is herculean, requiring hearings that could easily tie up the planning committee for hundreds of hours. The hearings have been rocky, as council members have struggled with complicated issues and dispensary operators have complained that they were being railroaded. And, if dispensaries refuse to buckle, the city could face costly court battles.One of the Bulldog Cafe's owners, Anthony Folsom, said the rush to close dispensaries would hurt responsible businessmen and Los Angeles. "The city seems to be caving to political pressure," he said. "People who are in it for the right reason are going to get out, and what they are going to be left with is drug dealers."The council wound up in this situation because it failed to act on dispensaries' applications for hardship exemptions from the moratorium. That inaction, which lasted almost 17 months, encouraged dispensaries to open; the city attorney's office had decided it could not take dispensaries to court until the council denied their applications.In the last few months, applications poured in.On June 9, when the council voted to stop accepting them, there were about 550. The decision did not become effective until Tuesday. By then, the total had hit 883."That's a huge number," Reyes said. "Thank God we stopped it."The moratorium does not spell out what qualifies a dispensary for a hardship exemption, and the city attorney's office has advised the council only that its decisions must be fair and rational.That vague advice led Councilman Richard Alarcon to warn recently that the city could find itself snarled in lawsuits. "This is a very dangerous road we're going down," he said. "It's going to cost us a ton of money."Reyes has held just two hearings so far, on the Bulldog Cafe and New Age Wellness, a dispensary that has not yet opened in Venice. They were marked by awkward moments. Council aides presented some inaccurate and unverified information, and Reyes tried to silence the dispensaries' attorneys when they responded to it.At one point, Stewart Richlin, the attorney for New Age Wellness, leaped up and cried out, "I'd like to challenge that. That's hearsay within hearsay." He kept interrupting until he made his point, which turned out to be correct.Richlin and medical marijuana advocates were disturbed that Reyes allowed most speakers just one minute."Gee, why should they give a full minute?" Richlin said recently. "What if they gave 10 seconds or two seconds? Then you could give your name, and they could say, 'Guilty, death sentence.' I mean this is a kangaroo court.' "Reyes made no apologies for the procedures. "It's not a debate. It's a hearing," he said. "If it was a debate, I would never finish an item."The council's decision to reject the applications from the Bulldog Cafe and New Age Wellness suggests it is unlikely to grant many exemptions.The Bulldog Cafe, which originally opened in North Hollywood, was one of 186 dispensaries that met all of the city's requirements to operate during the moratorium. But its owners say they were forced to move by their landlord, who received a letter from the Drug Enforcement Administration that threatened the landlord with felony charges.The move required them to get a hardship exemption from the City Council to be allowed to open in a different location."This, I think, is the classic hardship case," said Thomas J. Gray, the Bulldog Cafe's attorney.Many of the city's legal dispensaries, possibly more than 50, filed similar applications when their landlords evicted them after receiving DEA letters. The council appears disinclined to give the letters much weight.That dismays medical marijuana advocates who believe these dispensaries followed the rules. "I don't understand why the city is going to be hostile with them," said Degé Coutee, who runs the Patient Advocacy Network.In denying the Bulldog Cafe's application, Reyes noted that the store had moved into the same block as the John C. Fremont library, calling that "an overwhelming factor."Cindy Chvatal, head of the Hancock Park Homeowners Assn., said many parents whose children use the library and a nearby preschool have complained to her about the dispensary's location.The city has not adopted an ordinance to control dispensaries and has no restrictions on where they can operate. But, Reyes said, "we have enough common sense to know what we want and don't want."The council is considering a proposal to keep them 1,000 feet from libraries and other places children frequent.New Age Wellness claimed as its hardship that it could not open before the moratorium because of uncertainty caused by federal raids and confusion over the city's proposed rules.Its owners also said they are veteran healthcare professionals. They said that they worked with city officials to plan their store on Rose Avenue so it would comply with any future ordinance and that they have spent at least $108,000."We have a lot at stake to lose," said Curt Moore, one of the owners.But its location also sparked concerns. Neighbors were already irritated by a nearby dispensary.Whitney Blumenfeld, an aide to Councilman Bill Rosendahl, whose district includes Venice, urged the council to reject the "build it first and ask for forgiveness later" approach.Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)Author:  John HoeffelPublished: June 28, 2009Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help 

Comment #24 posted by FoM on June 30, 2009 at 12:00:57 PT
Sinsemilla Jones
Thank you. I really appreciate it.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #23 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on June 30, 2009 at 11:46:04 PT
Money sure can get in the way of good reasoning.
That pretty much sums it ALL up, FoM. Very well put!
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Comment #22 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on June 30, 2009 at 11:23:49 PT
You say financial backer, I say mullah....
tomato, tomato, potato, potato,let's call the whole election off, lol.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #21 posted by Hope on June 30, 2009 at 10:20:44 PT
Sinsemilla Jones
I fear their "asses" are "fireproof"... for the reasons Runruff states.:0(
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #20 posted by FoM on June 30, 2009 at 07:14:34 PT
Money sure can get in the way of good reasoning.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #19 posted by runruff on June 30, 2009 at 06:29:21 PT
It is not that simple. All of these politicians owe their seat to their finacial backers and therefore their allegiance.That is what they are literally; political whores!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #18 posted by FoM on June 30, 2009 at 05:28:07 PT
Sinsemilla Jones
I just don't understand why some of the southern states are so behind the times. If I was a politician I would want to be open minded and study the issues that I don't understand and learn something.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #17 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on June 30, 2009 at 00:09:45 PT
I hope he's as wise as you hope, too, Hope.
I'm not near as worried about the President as I am about Congress.I truly believe BHO will sign either or both Frank cannabis reform bills, if the Congress will pass them.But I think it's going to take lighting a fire under some Democratic asses.
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Comment #16 posted by Hope on June 29, 2009 at 21:11:40 PT
I hope our President won't go to the fight us stage. I'm hoping he'll have a "Listen" and "Understand" stage. I hope he's as wise as I hope he is.I hope.:0)
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #15 posted by Hope on June 29, 2009 at 21:08:33 PT
Yes, Sinsemilla...
Lots of these prohibitionists have not gotten with Gandhi's "program" at all. They started off fighting us... then laughing... then ignoring... but I still think they better get ready for the part where we win.
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Comment #14 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on June 29, 2009 at 20:30:26 PT
At least the President has made it to stage 2.I think Alabama is still stuck in pre-stage 0.All the candidates there are pre-chosen by the mullahs.
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Comment #13 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on June 29, 2009 at 20:20:58 PT
I'm not surprised Artur Davis is against legalization, either, since he was against Hinchey-Rohrabacher, as was Bud Cramer, Alabama's other Dem. representative, and, of course, all the Bama Republicans, for a 7-0 vote against their constituents, a majority of whom favor medical marijuana as well as state's rights. was just disappointed that he wouldn't at least acknowledge that a lot of his constituents disagree with him.
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Comment #12 posted by Sam Adams on June 29, 2009 at 12:56:56 PT
The face of tyranny
Cindy Chvatal, head of the Hancock Park Homeowners Assn., said many parents whose children use the library and a nearby preschool have complained to her about the dispensary's location.This is so disturbing - more and more Americans live under the iron fist of HOA's (Homeowner Associations). Now these modern-day temperence ladies won't just keep the witch-hunt within the borders of their privatized neighborhoods, they want to control everybody! We've either got to stand up and denounce these fascist-type people right away or within another generation or two people will completely forget what freedom even is! It's definitely not some HOA fining you $250 because the grass on your lawn exceeds 6 inches in length! That is the police state that Cindy is pushing. She is the one that is intolerant of people that are sick and in pain. Every American needs to stand up to people like Cindy in their own lives if we're to save this country.
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Comment #11 posted by Hope on June 29, 2009 at 12:45:19 PT
Artur Davis
This guy reminds me of Ghandi's advice that we've often looked to, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."Obviously, there are still those who are against our efforts that are still in the first stage.
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Comment #10 posted by Hope on June 29, 2009 at 11:45:53 PT
Ekim Comment 7
Soon as I get power I'll be on that swat reform site!Thanks so much.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #9 posted by FoM on June 29, 2009 at 11:27:08 PT
Sinsemilla Jones
I read the short article and it doesn't surprise me. I don't think there are many politicians that are for marijuana legalization. Maybe he might feel different if it was medical marijuana.
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Comment #8 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on June 29, 2009 at 10:45:49 PT
Thanks ekim!
BTW, Artur Davis ain't a white Republican, either -'s a direct link to the Artur Davis story -
In Alabama, Even Black Democrats Suck
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #7 posted by ekim on June 28, 2009 at 18:50:00 PT
fyi Rep. Artur Davis seeks ideas; legalizing marijuana hits No. 1, but gets nixed
By Associated Press1:39 PM CDT, June 28, 2009
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Legalizing marijuana turned out to be the top single UT expands switchgrass incentive program for second year
By Lisa Gibson posted June 25, 2009, at 9:48 a.m. CST Thirty-eight eastern Tennessee farmers, up 26 from last year, will plant 1,901 acres of switchgrass during the second season of the University of Tennessee’s switchgrass farmer incentive program. "SWAT Raids -- No One Is Safe" is based on the 2008 case of Cheye 
Calvo, Mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, whose home was stormed and 
two dogs killed by a SWAT team during a botched marijuana 
investigation. Last month the Maryland General Assembly passed ground 
breaking legislation, proposed by Mayor Calvo, requiring SWAT teams 
to report on their activities so the public can know 
( of your petition will be sent to your own state legislators, 
and to Congress and the Attorney General, helping Mayor Calvo and 
others get SWAT reform legislation passed in Congress and in states 
across the nation. Please visit to watch 
the video, sign the petition and spread the word so this can happen.The overuse of SWAT teams is one of many abuses in our failing "drug 
war" -- visit for information about this 
troubling problem. Thank you for standing up for justice. 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by FoM on June 28, 2009 at 14:28:01 PT
The Festival seems like it would be great. They have a very nice web site too.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by ekim on June 28, 2009 at 14:00:39 PT
 back from the MI renewable energy fair
was great but still have more work to do on ethanol but will keep trying.We travel right passed Rothbury up and back its going to be bigger than last year.
60 acts with Dylan and Willie and the Dead to name a few.see more if you want
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Comment #4 posted by EAH on June 28, 2009 at 13:19:19 PT:
More Dysfunction
Are "alcohol dispensaries" required to be 1000 ft. away too? The double standard is pathetic and indefensible.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by user123 on June 28, 2009 at 11:22:41 PT:
Other Way Around
Well thank goodness there aren't hundred's of liquor stores in LA....oh wait, there's thousands.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by John Tyler on June 28, 2009 at 07:46:40 PT
real politics
Here is an idea. The L.A. council members are small time politicians. Politicians big or small need money to operate, you know, for their reelection campaign fund. The owner and operators of the dispensaries are political constituents. They are an interest group. They have a right to participate and they should be participating. So in the highest level of civic mindedness and participation in the political process, they should determine who their friends are and who are not their friends and make strategic contributions that will help their cause. If they need assistance they can hire a politically savvy consultant to help them work this out. The bottom line is once the politicians smell money in this they will be more receptive, but they have to have the money waved under their noses in the right way. It’s the American way.
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Comment #1 posted by runruff on June 28, 2009 at 04:59:36 PT
Free Market society?
Let the market decide not the politician! That is the American Way!!!
[ Post Comment ]

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