Once upon a time there were over 1,000 medical marijuana dispensaries in the City of Los Angeles. ‘There are more MMJ dispensaries than Starbucks in LA’ was what people were always saying. It was a beautiful thing – capitalism meets cannabis. Medical patients had an enormous variety to choose from, which drove up competition, which in turn kept prices fairly reasonable. Oh my, how times have changed.
The City of Los Angeles announced yesterday that only 41 medical marijuana dispensaries are going to be left after the restrictive city ordinance is fully implemented. In an attempt to pre-empt any lawsuits by other dispensary owners whose shops will be forced to close, the city sued the remaining dispensaries first, and are requesting that a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge rule that the whole thing is legal. “We took a very strict interpretation of the ordinance, and if it didn’t match the ordinance exactly, then we declared them ineligible,” said Holly Wolcott, executive officer for the city clerk.
“I’m not going to take this lying down,” said Yamileth Bolanos, owner of PureLife Alternative Wellness Center. “This is ridiculous. They have screwed up one thing after another. Not once have they thought about the patients of Los Angeles.” Eighty five dispensaries are already in various stages of litigation over the ordinance, which took effect June 7.
One Judge, Justice Anthony J. Mohr, is ruling over all of the proceedings for all of the cases. He set a date for Sept. 21 to start those lawsuits. He has not set a date for the newest lawsuit filed by the City of LA. According to the media report I linked to above, “When the City Council passed the ordinance, it acted on an estimate that about 130 dispensaries might qualify to stay open. Under the ordinance, however, if the number dropped below 70, additional dispensaries would be chosen in a lottery. The total number of dispensaries in the city would then be capped at 70.”
I think Johnny1 put it best in his comment from an earlier post — ‘Now that 80 % of the dispensaries in LA have been zoned out, the few remaining reap the profits.’ The City is going to suffer with less economic activity in the City (which was a LOT when there were over 1,000 shops). The labor force in the area is going to continue to suffer, as many of those shops employed quite a few people. Worst of all the patients are suffering with less access to medicine, and skyrocketing prices. It is basic economics — the less competition there is, the higher the prices will go up.
When you consider how many 215 consumers are in the LA metro area, and that they will only be able to choose from 41 outlets to get their meds, it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that the lucky 41 are going to be very rich. For the sake of the LA MMJ community, I really hope that the other dispensaries win their lawsuits. Or even better — that Prop 19 passes and EVERYONE gets to burn down in the entire State of California!