The Los Angeles City Council and the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office have won a victory toward implementing the medical marijuana ordinance passed last year.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mohr made several changes on Jan. 7 invalidating a portion of a ruling he made in December. The dispensaries that filed lawsuits against the city’s medical marijuana ordinance are now required to post a $350,000 bond within 10 days for an injunction against portions of the ordinance to take effect.
Americans for Safe Access and some individual dispensaries had filed lawsuits seeking to invalidate the entire medical marijuana ordinance, but Mohr ruled in December against only portions of the ordinance. On Friday, Mohr dropped a requirement that the city change its policy on making the dispensaries re-register after two years. He upheld, however, a requirement that the city find a new way to protect the privacy of patients. As the ordinance stands, the police department has full access to all information about patients.
Mohr also upheld a provision pertaining to which dispensaries could reapply for a license. The ordinance stipulates that only dispensaries that were in business before a moratorium took effect in 2007 could reapply, but the judge’s ruling requires the city to pick a specific cut-off date. To fix the problem, the city council would simply have to reword the ordinance and include that specific date, according to Special Assistant City Attorney Jane Usher. Finally, Mohr’s decision will also require that the city give additional notice and hold a hearing for dispensaries before they could be ordered to close.
The rules outlined in the December ruling would have gone into effect by Jan. 7 had the city attorney not asked Mohr for a clarification of his original ruling. If the bond is not posted, the full ordinance will stay in effect. If the bond is posted, Usher said the city will appeal the injunction and will ask for the Court of Appeals to issue a stay until the case can be reviewed.
The Los Angeles City Council has met twice in closed session to consider its legal strategy. Monica Valencia, a deputy for Councilmember Ed Reyes, who spearheaded the effort to get the medical marijuana ordinance passed, said he had no comment because of the pending litigation.
Usher added that the City Attorney’s Office is providing the council guidance in rewriting the provisions of the ordinance that may need to be changed, so if the judge’s injunction goes into effect, the council will be in position to mount a challenge. Usher added that any new changes to the ordinance would likely not be made until early February, however.
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