Tuesday, June 09, 2009

MMDs on the Tuesday Council Agenda; Proliferation In Los Angeles, Blogs Comment

The Tuesday Agenda Item (18) will present the opportunity for the Council to amend it's current ordinance, the "ICO" ("Interim Control Ordinance"). That ordinance imposed a moratorium in 2007 on the opening of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries ("MMDs") in the City. The amendment will be the elimination of the existing "hardship exemption" that was included in the language of the ICO, and by which MMDs use as a justification to begin business operations in violation of the ICO.

The violations are not being prosecuted by the City Attorney's office, although I think the language is there to allow it. The City Attorney's office has been waiting for the the City Council to rule on the existing applications "hardship exemptions" before it will act. There are over 500 MMD's in Los Angeles and it's growing, with more rushing to get in under the wire and beat the impending elimination of the "exemption."

ALL of the hardship exemptions filed before an elimination of the provision will not be affected, as it only will be effective for applications filed after it takes effect. The notion of "no ex post facto laws" bars retroactive application.

"RON KAYE L.A.," a blog on city issues http://www.ronkayela.com/ has presented views on this in the June 6, 2009 posting, "What Do Pot and Cell Towers Have in Common? You Can Help Stop Their Proliferation," by Ron Kaye, http://ronkayela.com/2009/06/what-do-pot-and-cell-towers-ha.html where he discussed two types of problems for local communities, left unattended by the city through the inaction of the City Council,
Public nuisances like cell phone towers and medical marijuana cooperatives seem to pop up everywhere around us on a daily basis

In both cases, the problem is caused by the failure to do its basic job of providing rational standards for regulation and control. In both cases, you can actually do something about the problems in coming days.

The blog has a lot of other posts, usually at least one new one a day on the ongoing topics in the Ctiy. (Look at the comment on CM JACK WEISS's exit and another example of favoring developers over residents in "Gateway to Hell: Jack Weiss' Goodbye Present to Developers," http://ronkayela.com/2009/06/gateway-to-hell.html .) And when you talk about development, you usually have to include the idea of, "What in the world is the Ed Reyes' Committee on "Planning and Land Use Managment" ('PLUM') doing?" Jack Weiss and Jose Huizar are the other two committee members, all staunch supporters of Villaraigosa and his policies. That might give you a clue on why things are as they are.

My other favorite blogger and activist, Zuma Dogg, posts today on his "L.A. Daily Blog," about "The Future of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries On City Council Agenda for Tuesday," http://ladailyblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/future-of-medical-marijuana.html .

It's a fairly detailed look at what's happened and what the Council will probably do. There's quite a bit of commentary here on the way the system is handling the issue.

A second and more recent posting Monday on ZD's blog is Do you have ANY idea how HUGE The Medical Marijuana Business Is In Los Angeles...It's THE BOOM Industry!!! by Zuma Dogg, June 8, 2009. The commentary is about the present picture we have in L.A. in particular and the idea that the City has mishandled the conditions so badly that they won't be able to change it. The suggested idea of taxing the sales to generate revenue is one that has been brought up in the past often and that has been discussed by many over the years in the support of legalizing marijuana. The overview of the situation seems pretty dismal, but it's the message, not the messenger that should be processed here.

We have a problem in the sheer numbers of facilities that have begun business operations as MMDs after filing for hardship exemptions, with that going into high gear after the announcement of Jose Huizar's proposed motion to end that exemption, exacerbated by the admitted inability of the city to act under it's the provisions of own ordinance. That condition is beyond belief. So this is what Council produces in light of the fact that they are the highest-paid Council members in the country? Obviously it has absolutely no relation to the quality of service provided. What a poor return on all that money that's paid out is all I can say about that.

MMDs really should be allowed for the purpose of what conditions they were supposed to address, medical needs of patients, but the whole picture has become so compromised that it makes a joke of the system. The function now of MMDs is being converted to address, simply put, the needs of marijuana users under the guise of a medical need. The list of conditions by which physicians make recommendations for the patient to present in order to get his or her marijuana is huge.

The City has handled this matter as poorly as it could have been done, it seems. If you compare what is opening in other cities in the state, you see this is where all the openings happen, a direct result of the idea that the City Council has painted themselves into a corner and are unable to cope with what they should have done earlier.

The suspicion and general idea on MMDs by many is that the "patients" are just people who find this a convenient way to get their supply of the weed without really having a medical condition that is affected by or relieved by it. Some people have bought enough weed to the point where they are able to resell it. This shows one example of the corruption of the purpose of MMDs and the real-life usage of MMDs is, plain and simple, a substitute for the overall legalization of marijuana. When you look at the ads placed in the "L.A. Weekly's" print edition, you can see a battle of marketing which might be related to all the money that can be made. Whatever happened to the concept of "co-ops" providing low-cost products for the co-op members, with the profit margin being a secondary concern? That's all too 60's-type thinking. Welcome to the 21st century.

The city has not charged any fees for the business of MMDs as Oakland and San Francisco have. Missing a big opportunity to at least recover expenses for the time that is needed to handle the processing of the applications is a major foul up by the CMs, especially when you consider how badly and eagerly they gouge the public at the parking meters. So here they simple give away city services, a completely unreasonable outcome, when they process MMDs, a business entity that should be subject to some sizeable fees. The other business that gets super low fees imposed upon it is the billboard industry. And in both cases, the Buiding and Safety Department's Inspectors that are suppposed to check up on the business are under-manned and can't do the job like it needs to be done. Thus, even where the law can theoretically be enforced, you have a tiny group to do a big job. So collecting NO money to offset the expenses that can be expected to be incurred by the City for the tasks is unreasonable or just stupid. But you wil find that a lot in what happens in City Hall.

City Council is always behind the times on thses things and when they do act, that act AGAINST the public's best interest unless, of course, it happens to match what special interests want, or it gets a CM some political mileage.

Well, we will see what's next, and that will probably include a whole bunch of delays while the proliferation of even more MMDs will continues. I really have little faith in the work of the city council as it is composed now. They have too much time spent on the wrong things and this is one of the consequences of many that are apparent; you can only imagine what's happening with what's less apparent in the City affairs.