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Calif. Judge Backs Medical Marijuana Clubs

LOS ANGELES —Giving a boost to pro-legalization forces, a temporary moratorium that halted new medical marijuana dispensaries inside the city of Los Angeles was ruled invalid by a L.A. county judge Monday.

The move throws a nasty wrench into the city's recent efforts to crack down on new pot clubs from popping up throughout the city.

According to the New York Times: "The judge, James C. Chalfant of Superior Court, granted an injunction on behalf of Westside Green Oasis, a medical marijuana shop, which had challenged a Los Angeles ordinance that put a moratorium on new dispensaries in 2007. The club, which opened after the City Council halted the establishment of new shops, said the moratorium violated the state’s Compassionate Use Act."

City officials tried to use the moratorium to temporarily thwart new medical marijuana dispensaires from cropping up -- until the city could establish permanent regulations. California law allows a city to impose a moratorium of two years (maximum) while it establishes ordinances governing medical marijuana, the New York Times says.

The Los Angeles ban in 2007 permitted only 186 marijuana dispensaries. Two years later, there are roughly 800 medical marijuana shops, while the council has yet to pass a permanent ordinance governing medical marijuana.

“Recently, the city has been trying to enforce its moratorium — writing threatening letters and threatening to fine landlords,” Robert A. Kahn, a lawyer for Westside Green Oasis and about 20 other medical marijuana shops, told the Times. “If I can’t reach an agreement with the city attorney, then I will be filing another lawsuit on behalf of the rest of my clients.”

The judge’s final decision is expected soon.

“We can still use state law to enforce, and we still believe that the only legal way to do that is to enforce against the selling of marijuana, as opposed to giving it away as a collective,” L.A. Assistant City Attorney David Berger said.


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