By Hillel Aron
The federal government, today, “took legal action”, according to the LA Times, or “moved” to shut down, according to LA Weekly and Reuters, 71 pot shops, mostly located in Eagle Rock and Downtown LA. Not to be a dick, but what the f does that mean? If I move to get a soda, do I get a soda? If I take action to find my car keys, do I get to leave the house? Isn’t journalism about explaining shit to people?
Anyway. Turns out none of the pot shops are shut down – yet. The feds sent 68 of them “close up shop or else” type letters, and filed forfeiture lawsuits against three of them, according to the Eastsider, the only publication that didn’t buy into the ‘take action’ / ‘moved to’ jargon.
It’s worth pointing out that almost all of these dispensaries that were threatened today are in the district of Councilman Jose Huizar, the architect of the medical marijuana ban that was stopped in its tracks by a recent voter-triggered referendum. Thanks to the signatures of some 50,000 people, council was faced with a choice: put the matter on the ballot, or withdraw the law altogether.
Or there’s option C: ask the feds to step in.
That appears to be what Huizar is doing. After the 50,000 signatures were turned in, he told the Daily News’ Rick Orlov, ”We still plan to move forward with the idea that dispensaries do not have a right to exist… If there is a stay on the ordinance, we will have no law in the city allowing the dispensaries and we will enforce state and federal laws on marijuana.” (Of course, pot shops are legal at the state level, but never mind!)
With Councilman Mitch Englander’s district already pot-shop free, LA is quickly turning into a city where each councilman decides medical marijuana policy for his own home turf. While the mayor does… what exactly?
1) California voters legalize medical marijuana
2) City of LA somehow manages to not craft a coherent policy to regulate pot shops for 12 years (unlike West Hollywood, Santa Monica, etc.)
3) City of LA, in the face of numerous lawsuits, decides, to hell with it, we’re just gonna ban the freakin’ stuff
4) Dispensary owners and their unions say, “nuh uh,” and gather signatures.
5) Councilman Huizar responds, “yuh huh,” and gets the DEA to shut down (sorry, “move to” shut them down) all the shops in his district.
Isn’t this a good time for some judge to step in and clear everything up? Oh wait, it’s cool, they’re taking up the issue in like three years. No problem.
What a mess.
Update: Kate Linthicum of the LA Times reports that several shops were raided:
Federal officials took their war on medical marijuana dispensaries to Los Angeles on Tuesday, raiding several shops and issuing warning letters to dozens more.
Officials at the U.S. attorney’s office said it was the first large-scale federal action taken against cannabis shops in the city and said more would probably follow.
“We couldn’t do all of L.A. at once,” said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the office. “There’s just too many stores.”