LA’s pot war shows SF did it right


Yesterday’s vote by the Los Angeles City Council to impose strict new restrictions on the city’s medical cannabis dispensaries – an unenforceable approach likely to cause a legal and political backlash – validates the proactive and cooperative approach that San Francisco has taken to the clubs, which I discuss in this week’s cover story.

By simply ignoring the issue, Los Angeles created a lax environment where more than 800 clubs opened shop, prompting a community backlash. And now that they’re attempting to put that genie back in the bottle, they’re using tools that most likely run afoul of the rights created by Prop. 215, which legalized medical marijuana.

While LA City Council members, national political commentators, and even the latest issue of Harpers Magazine have parroted the point that LA now has more pot clubs that Starbucks, legalization advocates say it’s a bogus point. “It’s bullshit the way they compare it to Starbucks. How about comparing that to all the coffee shops, or the number of places that sell alcohol,” said Richard Lee, founder of Oaksterdam University and a key proponent of a proposed fall initiative to legalize weed for even recreational uses.

BTW, marijuana activists have made that comparison, calculating that Los Angeles has about 15,000 liquor stores, and even more stores where cigarettes are available. So which drug is really threatening the neighborhoods?