It's been a big week on the medicinal marijuana front this week, as both the Justice Department and a Superior Court Judge handed victories to proponents of medical marijuana.
Where to start on this one? The federal issue may have the most far reaching implications, but Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant essentially overruling LA's moratorium on pot dispensaries is a pretty clear affront to local control, whatever your opinions are on marijuana -- medical or otherwise. The LA City Council and City Attorney's office are now scrambling to update their ordinance to try and get a handle on this situation, which may look more like an outright ban than a moratorium. There are only ballpark estimates of how many facilities there are in LA, high 3-figures seems conservative.
Back to the Feds. On Monday, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. ordered federal law enforcement agencies not to devote scarce resources to prosecuting patients and suppliers acting in accordance with state laws that allow medicinal use of marijuana. This was greeted with cheers by supporters of its use, and many policy makers are calling it a more "sensible policy."
Indeed, most sensible folks (including us) would rather devote FBI and DEA resources to bigger fish, even in the drug arena. What's missing, as the LA Times writes, "The new guidelines don't provide the comprehensive reforms necessary to bring state and federal policies into alignment. Indeed, they may just produce more confusion."
And that's the problem. Whether you support pot for medicinal (or recreational) use, there's really not a dispute that the legal gray area for cities is a nightmare. Cities are fighting expensive legal battles to get control of dispensary proliferation, which in an unregulated environment are rife for public safety issues.