Drug Law

Los Angeles DA Declares War on Marijuana Dispensaries

| by Marijuana Policy Project

by F. Aaron Smith

The Los Angeles Times reports today that L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley thinks California’s medical marijuana collectives are breaking state law. Cooley vowed to prosecute all the medical marijuana facilities in his county, estimated to have nearly 1,000 medical marijuana collectives. Cooley can say that these collectives are illegal all he wants, but that doesn’t make it true.

Last year, the state’s attorney general issued a legal opinion that clearly stated that “a properly organized and operated collective or cooperative that dispenses medical marijuana through a storefront may be lawful under California law.” Maybe Cooley didn’t get the memo.

If Cooley is somehow successful in eliminating L.A.’s medical marijuana facilities, the effect would be disastrous for patients forced to find their medicine in the underground market and would be a boon to the violent drug cartels that often supply that market. Voters in Los Angeles — who overwhelmingly support medical marijuana — are probably scratching their heads trying to figure out why their district attorney wants to enrich criminal drug dealers at the expense of patients.

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Cooley’s priorities are dangerously misguided. Los Angeles County maintains a backlog of more than 3,000 untested rape kits (evidence collected from a sexual assault). This means that these rapes have been reported but are still not being investigated due to limited resources. I guess Cooley thinks law enforcement efforts would be better spent terrorizing seriously ill patients and the people who provide their legal medicine than solving violent crimes like sexual assault.