By Don Duncan
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck told reporters at the Daily News that medical cannabis collectives do not attract crime, adding that “Banks are more likely to get robbed than medical marijuana dispensaries.” The Los Angeles City Council should consider the Chief’s words carefully as they make final decisions about regulations for hundreds of patients’ associations in the city on Tuesday. If adopted as written, the ordinance may make finding a suitable location almost impossible.
Responding the concern from Neighborhood Councils, law enforcement, and the media, the City Attorney and Councilmembers have created tough location restrictions for collectives. Collectives cannot be adjacent to, across the street from, or across an ally from any residential use. The Council will decide on Tuesday if the facilities should be 500 or 1,000 feet from a laundry list of sensitive uses – schools, public parks, public libraries, religious institutions, licensed child care facilities, youth centers, substance abuse rehabilitation centers, or other medical cannabis collectives.
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Even the best case scenario under the proposed regulations is not good news for patients in Los Angeles. Most of the city’s collectives will be forced to close, and it is unlikely many will find a new property that meets the tough requirements. One solution may be to allow a “Good Neighbor” exception for any collective that has not been the subject of community complaints. That would let conscientious collectives stay in their existing location and avoid an interruption in service for patients.
We will find out on Tuesday if the City Council hears Chief Beck’s analysis and adopts rules that treat collectives like health care facilities with a proven track record as good neighbors, or like public nuisances. Patients and advocates hope cooler heads will prevail.