Aug. 11, 2006 - Signs are that a crackdown on LA's wide-open medical marijuana market may be imminent.

Speaking at a community neighborhood forum about medical cannabis dispenaries before the North Hollywood Neighborhood Council, an LAPD officer was reported to warn: "To anyone who plans to open one of the clinics, DONT OPEN. We will pursue you like any other narcotics investigation."

Cal NORML has received 39 requests for new dispensary listings in the past month, mostly from greater LA and the Valley. Reports of problems have been multiplying - thefts, landlord complaints, distribution to minors and non-patients, and public odor of marijuana. The LA City Council is considering legislation to deal with dispensaries.

Orange County police have also been actively harassing dispensaries. OC has far fewer dispensaries than LA, but new ones have been opening in response to San Diego's shutdown.

San Diego assistant DA Mosler has said he is aware of one county that is interested in following San Diego's example of raiding and closing all the clubs. Two counties, San Bernardino and Merced, have joined a lawsuite filed by San Diego to exempt counties from having to follow Prop. 215. However, neither county has any dispensaries. LA County has already passed an ordinance allowing dispensaries to operate in unincorporated areas, as have Kern, Alameda, San Francisco, and SLO. Dispensaries are also recognized by a growing list of cities, including West Hollywood, Oakland, Visalia, Santa Cruz, Palm Desert, Berkeley, and Santa Rosa, among others.

Report on N. Hollywood meeting (from the net):

So here is what happened at the meeting.

First of all, the LAPD had 3 squad cars parked at the very entrance to the parking lot in a very "we want you to know we are here" way. They also had 6 officers present (all being paid overtime I'm sure) even though only 1 did anything but watch.

Officer John Smith (real name) came to the meeting to give a 10 minute presentation on medical marijuana clubs in the North Hollywood area.

He gave a very skewed history of Prop 215 and when quoting the law very slyly followed the Prop 215 language with "Commercial enterprises selling marijuana for any reasons, medical or not are not allowed." in a way that everyone there would have assumed it was part of the language of the law, not his interpretation.

He also said how San Diego closed all of its dispensaries, and then he threw in that "operators of the dispensaries are facing state charges." again in a way that made it sound like every single one had been arraigned.

He went on to tell how when HHC called in thier burglary complaint they were told to close. Again he left out that they were closed on a building code, not for selling marijuana.

He said that The Coop on Laurel Canyon had a false alarm on thier security system and when officers responded they found a dispensary.

When they discovered this second club, they performed an "internet search and were astonished to learn that 37 clubs were in the LA area."

This was when they went to R&S Caregivers, and the officer witnessed the owner "venting fumes onto the street into your community."

When officers responded they gave the owner 15 minutes to produce a business license. When he couldn't they booked him on possession with intent and found 10 pounds of "narco." He said both the Coop and R&S owners were facing charges. He made no mention of course that they were going to be dropped.

He then said very directly: "To anyone who plans to open one of the clinics, DONT OPEN. We will pursue you like any other narcotics investigation."

Alison Margolin and the owner of a club trying to open were there to respond. She was very articulate on all the points we already know so I'm not going to list them.

As for the community comment, it was about 50/50 for people who spoke.

The general concerns listed by the community was that they had enough street dealers, did they really need more.

HHC was across the street from a high school. There were ofcourse the usual people saying that recreational use is bad.

There was one woman who said that she opposed dispensaries because hospitals should give out marijuana.

The 7 or so patients were very articulate too.

As for the Neighborhood Council, one exchange went like this:

to Alison Margolin, in a very skeptical voice: "You say that you have doctor's reccomendations. Can you actually produce those documents and produce your record keeping to show that marijuana only went to real patients. Does your book keeping jive."

Margolin: "Every patient will have to bring in their reccomendation at which point we will call the doctor and verify that patient. We will keep a copy on file and only then will they get marijuana."

Councilman: "Yes but can you produce these documents. Does your book keeping jive?"

Margolin: "Well the clinic hasn't opened yet so there are no patients."

Councilman: "Yes but does your book keeping jive. Can you actually produce these documents."

Margolin: "There are no documents. We haven't opened."

Councilman: "So you can't produce these documents."

At which point I stood up and said "I can produce my doctor's reccomendation."

There was an interesting exchange between one councilman and the cop where the councilman asked "You seem to be concerned with these places operating without a business license as opposed to the moral aspects of a clinic. If a clinic had all the neccesary business licenses, would you still shut them down?

To which the cop stuttered and came up with "The clubs we shut down were not legally operating."

"Yes but if one did have the permits you requested, would you have shut them down?"

"Uh, uh, we regulate everything from bars to yard sales, and these businesses can not operate outside the law."

One councilman asked the president exactly what the purpose of this discussion was, where this was going. To which the president came up with "well, nothing. The police requested to address this with the council."

So moral of the story is LAPD publicly said they found weedtracker and the canorml list. They didn't say anything about clubs that were already operating.

Just "if you plan to open one, don't open."

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