Medicinal marijuana users can count on getting their products from the same dispensaries as before now that the marijuana ban that was set to start in less than a week has been suspended.
Supporters of medicinal marijuana delivered 50,000 signatures to the City Clerk’s Office, who have 15 days to authenticate a minimum of 27,425 signatures. After authentication the law is sent back to City Council, where they will have 20 days to repeal the ban or set it to a vote on the March 5, 2013 ballot.
Mayor Antonio Villaragosa signed the ban into effect on Aug. 1, which stated all medicinal marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles County must close by Sept. 6.
Under the suspended law, individuals who use medical marijuana would no longer be able to purchase their products in a monitored environment. The dispensaries offer a legal alternative to getting their product, instead of the street corner or through a dealer.
Under California law, some medical marijuana users are allowed to grow marijuana in their own homes for personal use. Many marijuana advocates have said this is too expensive for many patients, with costs beginning at $5,000, according to the L.A. Times.
While the vote to pass this ban was unanimous, Councilman Paul Koretz is trying to pass a proposal that would keep shops that were established before 2007 open in Los Angeles, which is roughly 180. Americans for Safe Access is trying to get the bill overturned.
Patient Care Alliance Los Angeles also filed a lawsuit on Aug. 17 against the city to overturn the ban, according to NBC 4.
While the dispensaries may be in a legal limbo, it changes nothing in CSUN police policy towards marijuana on campus. Whether a student has a medical marijuana card or not and is in possession of marijuana, it is a misdemeanor charge. The student would be given a citation and may face reprimand from Division of Student Affairs for violating the student conduct code.
“The student conduct code usually aligns with state law, but can be different such as this case, where marijuana is illegal on campus,” said Christina Villalobos, public information officer for CSUN’s Police Department.
Not only are the marijuana users being affected by the ban, but so are the shop owners and their employees.
Veehee, a manager at Green Nugget Collective, isn’t really sure what is going to happen, but his opinions on the issue are strong.
“It’s ridiculous. They are making people go out to the street and find medicine when they are perfectly eligible to buy marijuana from us,” Veehee said.
He said they are discussing with lawyers about what their next steps will be regarding the ban.
It is still unknown how this ban will be enforced, or even if it will be enforced if it were to be passed. The city attorney’s office hopes to have a voluntary ban with every dispensary shutting its doors, but it is unknown to anyone how far they are willing to pursue forced shutdowns.
According to the LA Times, dispensary owners were mailed out letters this past week informing them that failure to close held them liable for jail time or a fine of up to $2,500 for everyday that they are open past Sept. 6.
Like many in Los Angeles and around the state of California, CSUN students are split on the issue of whether there should be dispensaries or not. Christian Ramirez, a freshman psychology major, believes that the dispensaries should be done away with.
“There are too many corrupt doctors giving out fake prescriptions, taking away from those that actually need marijuana to help them. You can go to a dispensary and get it filled right away,” Ramirez said. “There needs to be more regulation, make it something done only at hospitals and not these little stands.”
Kendra, an undeclared sophomore who asked for her last name to be left out, believes they should be allowed to stay as long as they are regulated.
“The city is hurting for money, along with the state, and if they can find a way to regulate everything, the dispensaries should be able to stay,” she said. “They can even legalize marijuana as long as it has the same rules as alcohol.”
Doug Fine, author of “Too High to Fail,” has looked into whether or not dispensaries provide the state with money or just increase the crime rate.
“Dispensaries have contributed $100 million in taxes last year, that’s statewide,” Fine noted.
Besides contributing millions of dollars, Fine says that dispensaries employed thousands of people that would suddenly be faced with losing their jobs.
“The fact is people want to use (marijuana),” he said. “The effect of enforcing and banning and criminalizing a plant that 100 million Americans want is simply to enrich criminal enterprises, cartels.”