On Friday, a group of medical marijuana patients sued the city of Los Angeles. The plaintiffs sought blocking a citywide ban meant to shut down storefront medical marijuana dispensaries in three weeks. The lawsuit was filed by the nonprofit Patient Care Alliance Los Angeles trade Association on behalf of 11 medical marijuana patients. The lawsuit claims users of my medical marijuana in California are protected by California’s legalization of medical marijuana and the constitutional right to freedom of assembly.
Marc O’Hara, the executive director of Patient Care Alliance, said after filing the lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court, “The medical marijuana center of the globe is L.A. just as much as the movie capital of the globe is L.A.… There are more dispensaries here than in the rest of the country.”
In July, leaders of the city passed an ordinance banning medical marijuana dispensaries by a 14-0 vote. The city has for long tried to deal with the problem of allegations that medical marijuana dispensaries supplied recreational users under the guise of medicine and they lead to the promotion of street crime.
Los Angeles city Councilman Jose Huizar, the person who authored the ordinance, had said at the time of passing the ban: “Relief is coming in the form of having a more focused and intense crackdown on these dispensaries that cause problems in our neighborhoods … If we try to move forward to regulate (storefronts), we will fail. It would be an exercise in futility.”
According to city officials there are about 750 registered dispensaries for medical marijuana in Los Angeles and at least 200 lack proper registration. In 1996 California became the first US state to decriminalize medical marijuana, a move that was followed later by 16 other states and the District of Columbia. However, the law has caused frequent conflicts with federal authorities.
Under US law, cannabis or marijuana is still classified as an illegal narcotic with no exemption for health reasons.