Suit to Prevent Medical Marijuana Dispensaries From Going Up in Smoke

September 23, 2009

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 23( )/PRNewswire/ — The following was released today by Attorney Robert A. Kahn: A lawsuit filed on September 21st asserts that the City of Los Angeles has illegally closed and is threatening to continue to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries. These businesses arose out of the 1996 passage of Proposition 215 (the Compassionate Use Act), under which California voters approved the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. California is one of 14 states where medical marijuana is legal.

Attorney Robert A. Kahn of Woodland Hills, CA. filed the complaint on behalf of the Los Angeles Collective Association (LACA), a coalition of medical marijuana dispensaries, and Westside Green Oasis, a Medical Marijuana Dispensary. Kahn, also an adjunct professor of law at Loyola Law school, is seeking a temporary restraining and an injunction against the city, precluding it from closing the stores and fining and arresting their owners and landlords based on an expired Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) originally passed on August 1, 2007. The ICO essentially banned the establishment or operation of these medical marijuana businesses as of that date. LACA contends its members provide a necessary and valuable service, approved of by the state with appropriate health and safety regulations.

While the original ordinance provided for hardship exemptions, none have been granted, and the exemption was recently eliminated by a new ICO. Instead, the dispensary operators and their landlords face prosecution over a tangle of regulations that threaten their businesses. They now confront the prospect of severe fines and/or jail time for violations of municipal and building codes. Many are also receiving eviction notices from landlords under pressure from the city.

“An ICO automatically expires after 45 days unless it is extended by following specific steps required by State law,” explains Kahn, who has been practicing law in the state for more than 30 years. “The City of Los Angeles did not follow those rules, so the ordinance expired 45 days later, on September 15, 2007.”

“Furthermore,” Kahn notes, “even if done properly, an ICO cannot be extended for more than a total of two years, which in this case is August 1, 2009. The City of Los Angeles passed an extension in June that continues the ordinance until March 2010, well beyond the two year maximum.”

“I am asking the court to declare that the ICO expired on September 15, 2007, or at the latest August 1, 2009,” Kahn continues, “and to issue an injunction against the City of Los Angeles, precluding it from trying to enforce the ICO by closing down businesses and prosecuting operators.”

The ICO is designed to be a temporary measure to give lawmakers a chance to enact permanent legislation. The City Council did not give the required public notice about extending the ordinance or hold public hearings, which then might allow them to extend the ordinance while a law is being considered.

Additionally, in a time of economic hardship, Los Angeles is squandering taxpayer money by going after the dispensaries and trying to enforce an ordinance that does not comply with state law. The city’s actions make it even more difficult for those with legitimate medical needs and a doctor’s approval to obtain marijuana that may help ease pain and suffering. News contact: Cindy Rakowitz, Cindy@brpublicrelations.com (818)783-3307

SOURCE Attorney Robert A. Kahn

Source: newswire

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