Proposition D is in effect and, so far, everything in Los Angeles has changed stayed the same!
Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably know that the voters of Los Angeles passed Proposition D on May 21, 2013. Although this law passed over two months ago, and has been in effect for over a month, every Angelino drives around and sees the same dispensaries on every corner with no indication of closure. So, what does proposition D mean exactly? It means that dispensaries not grandfathered into the law could face criminal and civil charges.
The law itself states that the operation or establishment of Medical Marijuana Businesses, is still illegal, BUT there are approximately 135 dispensaries that are protected from closure by the city. These 135 or so dispensaries are being grandfathered in only if, amongst other requirements, they have been open and operating since 2007, have registered with the city on three different occasions since, and never ceased operation for a period exceeding 90 days.
Since the new city attorney, Mike Feuer, has held office for only 1 month, it is hard to know where dispensary prosecution lies on his list of to-dos. Although Feuer has stated that the city will prosecute dispensaries that do not comply with proposition D both civilly and criminally, it remains to be seen how much teeth these statements have. As always, working against the city, is the amount of dispensaries that still exist, are still popping up, and the woman-power it would take to close them down. It seems the resources are just too limited. For now, the city has relied on old faithful – sending out strongly worded letters to non-compliant dispensaries and their landlords – hoping they will run scared. We've seen this tactic for many years now, with minimal success.
How Proposition D affects patients. Since the new law aims to close hundreds of dispensaries, many patients may have to drive a little further and find new locations. That's about it though. There is nothing in the law or in Feuer's statements to indicate that patients could be prosecuted or fined for frequenting a dispensary that violates Proposition D.
How Proposition D affects employees/volunteers. On the other hand, Feuer has stated that employees of non-compliant dispensaries can be prosecuted. This includes renting, leasing, or otherwise permitting a Medical Marijuana Business to occupy or use a location. Again, though, the teeth in these statements or the enforcement here is questionable.
Will Proposition D, like its predecessors, be litigated and overturned? Yes and No. Although the new law will likely be litigated, in City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, the California Supreme Court clearly ruled that cities are granted broad discretion when it comes to zoning and, even a complete ban on dispensaries is allowed. Proposition D, therefore, in limiting the number of dispensaries and the criteria of those dispensaries, will likely stand up to constitutional and legal muster.
Will Proposition D protect dispensaries and patients from the Feds? Sadly, no. My biggest beef with Proposition D, and more importantly, the city attorney's statements thereafter is that the city has made it clear that it has no authority/interest in protecting dispensaries or patient access from federal interruption. I fear that, even with Proposition D's tacit allowance of these 135 dispensaries, the feds will terrorize the town of Los Angeles, much like they have throughout Northern California. So now it is up to us, the advocates, the patients and the scholars, to join together and take preventative measures against the feds.
MEITAL MANZURI, is a Beverly Hills based attorney, specializing in criminal defense and medical marijuana. You can subscribe to her free legal newsletter or contact MEITAL MANZURI with legal questions: www.ManzuriLaw.com.
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