Los Angeles Interim Control Ordinance (Moratorium)
The Los Angeles City Council adopted an interim control ordinance (ICO) establishing a moratorium on new storefronts maintained by medical cannabis collectives and cooperatives on August 1, 2007. Patients' associations operating a storefront facility in Los Angeles were required to submit the documents listed below to the City Clerk's office before November 12, 2007, proving the storefront was open before the effective date of September 14, 2007:
183 collectives and cooperatives registered with the City Clerk before the deadline. More than 100 others have filed hardship applications seeking permission to open after the ICO filing deadline. The Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) will review hardship applications for each applicant, and decide whether or not the reason for filing after the deadline is sufficient. Applicants must close if their hardship application is denied.
Some of the original 183 collectives were forced to relocate after the effective date of the ICO because the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sent letters threatening property owners who rent to patients' associations. ASA believes that the PLUM Committee should consider DEA intimidation a legitimate cause for any of the original 183 registered collectives to relocate inside Los Angeles and file a hardship application with the City Clerk's office.
It is unlikely that the City Council intended that the hardship provision of the ICO be used for collectives and cooperatives that were not open before September 14, 2007. However, there has been some inconsistency in how city staff has implemented the ICO and in the information they disseminated to applicants. Some attorneys and consultants interpret the hardship provision broadly, advising clients to file applications regardless of the date on which the facility opened.
ASA encourages potential collective and cooperatives to use caution in filing post-effective date hardship applications, relocating existing storefront, or transferring ownership of any facility during the term of the ICO. Consult with a qualified and impartial business attorney - and get a second opinion. The PLUM Committee has broad latitude in denying hardship applications, and increasing neighborhood concerns about the continued proliferation and clustering of storefronts will influence their decision.
The City Council voted to extend the ICO for a final six-month period on March 6, 2009. The extension should give the City Council time to adopt permanent regulations for hundreds of storefronts providing medicine to members in the city. Research and experience show that sensible regulations reduce crime and complaints around medical cannabis storefronts, while protecting patients' access to their doctor-recommended medicine.
You can read more about what LA-ASA members and other advocates are doing to shape the permanent regulations at http://www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/LAordinance
Staff and operators should read our report on the California Attorney General's guidelines for medical cannabis collectives and cooperatives at http://www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/article.php?id=5561
For information on starting a new patients' association, visit http://www.AboutMedicalMarijuana.com