LA to Shutter Hundreds of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

A pedestrian walks past a marijuana leaf neon sign advertising a medical marijuana provider along a street in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Vogel)A pedestrian walks past a marijuana leaf neon sign advertising a medical marijuana provider along a street in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Vogel)Sour Diesel, Blue Dream and Woody Kush. They’re just a few of the 40 flavors Green Oasis serves up in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Playa Vista.

No, they’re not flavors of frozen yogurt, but of strains of medical marijuana. And in its Howard Hughes-era building with the creamy green walls, marijuana collectiveGreen Oasis even offers a 1,300-square foot “vaporizing lounge,” which administers the drug in a vaporous mist as an alternative to smoking. Since it opened 8 months ago, the Green Oasis has dispensed medical marijuana to an average of 300 clients per week.

But under a new ordinance passed today by the Los Angeles City Council, Green Oasis, and hundreds of other medical marijuana dispensaries in L.A. may be forced to shut down.

The new regulations, passed by a vote of 9-3, will limit the number of medical marijuana dispensaries to 70 and impose strict limits on their location and how they operate.

The council decided to allow 137 additional dispensaries which registered with the city before a September 2007, to continue operating as long as they meet the new regulations. That leaves few options that would allow Green Oasis to stay open.

“Ordinances in general are good, but I find this one to be too strict,” said Brian Berens, the founder and owner of Green Oasis. “It relies too much on who came before ’07, which is arbitrary.”

The 18-page ordinance spells out a host of new regulations. Dispensaries may not be located next to a residential area or within a 1,000 foot radius of a school, park, library or any other dispensary. The dispensary may only stay open between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.

In addition, each marijuana collective must install Web-based closed-circuit cameras to monitor the premises and provide a uniformed security guard patrol for a two-block radius surrounding the dispensary while operating.

The council has been debating the regulations for more than four years, during which time hundreds of dispensaries have sprouted up across the region.

The city estimates there are more than 500 collectives, but some estimates go as high as 1,000. Whatever the actual number, the running joke here is there may be more pot dispensaries in Los Angeles then there are Starbucks.

Residents and community groups have been complaining about the proliferation of the dispensaries for years.

Open only since May 2009, Green Oasis could be shut for being too new, but its on-site vaporizing lounge, could also shut the dispensary down. The new ordinance also prohibits inhaling, smoking or eating marijuana on the premises.

“No one’s throwing parties here,” said Berens. “Most people can’t afford a $600 vaporizer. We want to provide marijuana in a healthy manner.”

Berens is also the founder and a board member of the Los Angeles Collective Association which represents 70 medical marijuana dispensaries. Members meet monthly at Green Oasis and litigation may be on the next agenda. But Berens sees that as a last resort. He said he will propose collecting signatures to get the ordinance recalled on the next ballot.

The city council vote was followed by nearly an hour of public comment, mostly from people opposed to the ordinance. Among its few supporters was Lisa Sarkin, Land Use committee chair for the Studio City Neighborhood Council.

“Studio City has 28,000 residents and we have 13 medical marijuana dispensaries. They’re all basically on Ventura Boulevard within armshot of each other. I can’t imagine how this could be necessary.”

But Sarkin questioned the city’s ability to inspect dispensaries amid budget cuts. “I’m going to ask you: How are you going to enforce anything without a budget?”

More than 120 cities in California have an outright ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, according to statistics kept by Americans for Safe Access, the largest medical marijuana advocacy organization in the United States. There are more than 30 city ordinances. The L.A. ordinance may be especially restrictive.

“It’s somewhat of a bittersweet victory,” said Kris Hermes, a spokesperson for ASA. “It’s important the city regulate medical dispensaries but the ordinance has some very onerous property restrictions which threaten to shrink the number of facilities into the single digits.”

But it will take several weeks for the ordinance to take effect.

It must first go to L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who said he will sign the ordinance. “This legislation isn’t perfect, but the Mayor feels it is a step in the right direction,” said his spokesperson Sarah Hamilton.

Then the council must decide on fees the collectives pay for inspection. That process is expected to take at least 45 days.

– Article from ABC News.



  1. Anonymous on

    Brian claims to be the son of a retired federal judge and the nephew of a regional director in the FBI of the NY office. Brain says his uncle will give him a heads up on any DEA raid. Brian boast of his $900,000 home in Santa Monica.
    Customers at the marijuana dispensary smoke pot then drive which endangers the public safety.
    Close them now!!!! Force them to pay the city $1000 a day for every day they have been illegally selling marijuana as the sale of marijuana is illegal.

  2. Samson on

    Are there no limits on the number of liquor stores in my town/city?? I mean, everybody knows weed is less harmful than alcohol and yet they discourage it’s growth as a market…therefore LIMITING Ca. state Economic growth.
    It could even be described as “an opposing wind in the sail of Good-karma. Why should we put unfair restrictions on a substance that can NOT be overdosed….while at the same time allowing Alcohol( which can; and has led to deadly car crashes, domestic violence, date RAPE, and who could forget the old fashioned favorite–bar-room-brawls), to operate with as many locations as they can get licensed for?????

  3. Anonymous on

    CA is in the middle of an unprecedented budget crisis and these idiots are closing one of the greatest possible sources of tax income imaginable.

    The longer I live the more I become convinced that those who seek power and authority are primarily incompetent boobs who desperately wish to dominate their world so they do not feel weak. The greater the level of authority and control sought by an individual, the greater chance they will exhibit socio- or psychopathic tendencies. In this case we are talking about local and state bureaucrats, which means they are mostly just dim bulbs and not outright sadists.

  4. foam on

    how many not some jerk off central planner pinhead in some overpriced yeah I’m on the taxpayer dole office.

  5. Victim on

    I am disabled with very severe mobility impediments. I do not have the extra money to drive or be driven by automobile.

    I do not have the physical capacity to travel what for me is excessively to a distant location depending in what area of town I might be in at any given point in MY life, for what would otherwise be no reason, apart from the whim of some ill informed prejudiced and generally uneducated impatient overly hasty people who still believe in this day and age it is appropriate to discriminate against vulnerable and defenseless persons.

    I have never seen a liquor store with armed guards patrolling in a radius. I have never seen a gun shop with armed guards patrolling in a radius. I have never seen any other type of pharmacy, natural food store, vitamin or supplement store, farmers market, any other type of co operative of any sort, etc. (you get the point) patrolled by an armed guard in a radius. I wonder what might be expected or appropriate in countries where no one is permitted to carry firearms for such inconsequential overly generalized purposes? See what there doing is creating monopolies which I don’t think is legal if these are co-operatives or non-profits and probably not legal if these are businesses. How can monopolies be allowed for health care? Does that make any sense? The problem these were supposed to alleviate is the consequences of legislation that were adversely impacting the common person who should be benefited by this type of health care rather than hindered by undue legislated impediments. This as far as I am concerned could be argued to be the results of calculated hate towards people, who may be of varying degrees of medical disadvantage who should happen to choose the safest easiest to use healthiest plant on the planet for their use in whatever regard benefits them. This is just keeping alive the image that there is something bad and dangerous about hemp and its various products, not too surprising given the continued status of hemp production federally, and the pussy whipped ball-less position the feds are taking on med. herbs, nonetheless this I believe constitutes unfair and unreasonable treatment of people that were intended to be assisted by the legally binding ballot measures in this state.

    This is just plain wrong. I can only imagine the volume of legal action against the city and the groups that instigated this hateful treatment of hemp using populations that is coming down the pipeline. I unfortunately am too disadvantaged to do much more than give my perspective around these issues.

    Distance traveled, freedom of choice of membership or patronage, freedom therefor for personal selection of therapeutic avenues as needed by me or others, etc. I need this.

    Otherwise, I may as well just go back to my old dealers, since they serve me better than what is proposed by this ordinance

    I thought the point was to provide a different face publicly , a legitimized alternative for people. Now hate groups, and lobbies are undermining the democratic principles which our society is founded on and governed by. How can this be happening, how can this be possible? I am in shock. The object is to provide better services than dealers, not worse. Discrimination is not legal anyway. Unfair discrimination is worse.

    I would personally love to see this sortied out promptly. This is ridiculous, the point is to remove restrictive regulations. Maybe allow voluntary organic certification, since it is an agricultural commodity. But to recognize as judge Young reminded us, it is the safest substance known to man. This is an issue of hate. Seeing people use an herb openly without fear is not a legitimate reason to hate all around them, or even them. Trying to teach us to be fearful? Why? Is that even not a hate crime? Please somebody has got to speak out about this.

    Anyway I have a spinal injury with partial paralysis and severe wasting, and nerve damage, I use the herb to inhibit the progression of these conditions as well as others that all would otherwise interact and snowball to complete non-functioning. I am receiving a very meager disability pension, and got less than $4000 total for the motor vehicle settlement over 10 years ago. I can afford barely enough herb to function in the very most limited way when I need it the very most (if I can manage to go out, when I brush my teeth or wash, when I eat, sometimes since it is so hard for me to get around I like to go to another area but it takes me a great deal of effort I can not then shuttle around back and forth in between to find some herb…etc.). There is no way I would be able to make use of the crippled system that is planned to be imposed. I will be forced to rely on dealers, not all of which I am comfortable with, but nevertheless would still be more RELIABLE and ACCESSIBLE than the new system.

  6. Anonymous on

    No comment.