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D.A. Announces Intent to Prosecute L.A. Marijuana Dispensaries

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Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley has announced that he will prosecute medical-marijuana dispensaries that sell the drug to clients, regardless of whether the City Council’s draft medical-marijuana rules allow such sales, the Los Angeles Times reported Nov. 18.

The council has deliberated over its medical-marijuana rules for two years, but Cooley contends that state law makes it illegal for clinics to sell marijuana, even to medical users. Cooley said that California’s medical-marijuana law only allows for marijuana collectives to share the drug they produce with members, not for cash to change hands.

At least two members of the council have rejected Cooley’s call to make sales illegal in the medical-marijuana ordinance.

“The L.A. City Council should be collectively ashamed of their failure to grasp this issue,” Cooley said. “Undermining those laws via their ordinance powers is counterproductive, and quite frankly we’re ignoring them. They are absolutely so irrelevant it’s not funny.”

Other law-enforcement officials and district attorneys in California agree with Cooley’s interpretation of the law, but medical-marijuana advocates said that legitimate collectives can sell marijuana, at least to get reimbursed for their costs.

“The idea that a nonprofit collective can’t sell things is just a bizarre interpretation of the law,” said Joe Elford, chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access.

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