Buscaino Issues Statement Regarding City Council’s Vote Overturning the Ban on Storefront Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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CITY HALL –  Councilman Joe Buscaino has issued the following statement regarding his vote on Tuesday to uphold the ordinance banning storefront medical marijuana dispensaries. The vote was in response to a referendum petition submitted to the City Clerk, seeking to overturn the ordinance approved unanimously by the City Council on July 24. The City Council had the option of either repealing the ordinance, or sending it to the voters in the March municipal election for an up or down vote.

“Today, I voted in the minority to uphold the ordinance passed by the City Council in July, that banned all storefront medical marijuana dispensaries. I’m confident that had we given the voters of Los Angeles – especially my constituents in the 15th District – the opportunity to decide, they would have agreed with my position, and upheld the ban.

When California voters approved Prop 215 in 1996, the measure was billed as a way to allow people with serious illnesses – such as cancer patients seeking relief from the effects of chemotherapy or AIDS patients suffering from loss of appetite – access to a drug that relieved their suffering. The voters did not approve the retail sale of marijuana for recreational use, and that is exactly what is occurring all around Los Angeles.

Marijuana should not be easier to obtain than Sudafed and available at more locations than Starbucks – that was not the the intent of Prop 215, and every ballot measure seeking to legalize marijuana for recreational use has been rejected by the voters of California. Until there is a change in federal or state law, I do not believe storefront marijuana dispensaries should exist, as they cater to and encourage recreational users to take advantage of loose regulations and lax oversight, giving an illegal commercial enterprise the air of legitimacy.

As a former Senior Lead Officer, I worked closely with residents and business owners to address quality-of-life issues, and the proliferation of these unregulated storefront shops were of great concern to them. I will work with LAPD and the Department of Building and Safety to aggressively enforce our existing zoning and nuisance laws and will shut down all dispensaries that violate them.