Written By: Imogen
If ever there was a sign that there is a long way to go with getting people to understand the therapeutic benefits of smoking marijuana then this story proves it tenfold. Following on from this Hempbeach.com story posted on Tuesday, in which the Michigan State Rep Mike Callton said that it should be up to each individual place within the state to decide whether Provision Centres or Dispensaries for Marijuana should be allowed, just yesterday L.A. Council have voted overwhelmingly in favour of approving a ban on all dispensaries. However, it’s a chequered story that’s had it’s problems.
A disappointing result
Alongside the ban on dispensaries, the council also voted for an end to pot shops that were already well established and operating freely to be automatically closed down too. This follows on the heels of the December 2010 ban on the distribution of pot within unincorporated areas of L.A.
In an article written for the L.A. Times by Dan Turner, the Special Assistant City Attorney Jane Usher has claimed that while the ban itself would remove dispensaries that had storefronts with green crosses all through town, it would still allow smaller outlets to dispense it, but only if they had three or four members only. This means that people who work as carers to patients with illnesses that may use marijuana for pain relief will still be able to grow and supply it for their own purposes. There will also still be an exemption in place for buildings such as hospices and clinics with licenses.
image courtesy of boston.com
Before this ruling
Way back before the 2010 ban, there were a proliferation of these outlets throughout L.A. Some of them were briskly efficient looking medical centers that had a clear purpose and were defined by the fact they looked like regular drug stores. Then there were the slightly more café style outlets, the ones that had an air of health food about them, slightly more whole-wheat and green tea in appearance and flavour. Thirdly, there were the outlets that were slightly dodgier in appearance, shifty, shady and not wanting to be noticed at all, but that those in the know would go to if they needed. Perhaps this last group was more designed for those connoisseurs that wanted the marijuana for pleasure rather than medicinal purposes. There are, to date, around one hundred and eighty two outlets selling marijuana throughout L.A.
Why are they doing it?
Campaigns to urge people to quit smoking or give up smoking marijuana are nothing new, there are always going to be people out there who have tunnel vision with regards to the fact that something like marijuana can actually be beneficial to those who suffer with chronic health conditions and for whom conventional pain relief or medications don’t always work.
However, here, for the most part this seems to stem from a desire to protect innocent children and teens from finding out about smoking pot, just like they want to protect them from the dangers of plain old cigarette smoking. To be fair, if kids are going to do it, they’re going to do it. They’ll find a way somehow, regardless of any ban from anyone. Something that’s banned surely becomes illicit and therefore more desirable to curious youngsters? However, by banning the dispensaries and outlets outright, the council naively seem to think that it will therefore remove the danger. The original ban stopped these outlets from opening up near places were kids spent a lot of time, like school, libraries or outdoor areas like parks. The problem was, was that a loophole in the law meant that because marijuana is banned under federal law as part of the Controlled Substances Act that individual cities such as L.A. can’t legally ban dispensaries at all. They can restrict what they do, but not get rid of them outright. The new legislation and ban which was voted for yesterday has now changed all this and it’s naturally angered the people who have responsibly used pot for health reasons, for many years.
What happens now?
The people who advocate the use of marijuana for medical purposes and who have, up until now, been selling it and not doing anything wrong, have decided to fight the decision and try to overturn it. Members of “Americans For Safe Access” who are a group committed to the advocacy and rights of medical marijuana users have said that they plan to instigate a ballot-box campaign to overturn the vote. In a report you can read here, Don Duncan who is one of the group’s representatives stated that it was an outrage for L.A. Council to believe an outright ban would solve the problem of distributing medical marijuana. What happens next and whether the ballot and further action will happen and succeed remains to be seen.
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