Some South LA residents want to ban marijuana dispensaries in their communities

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A group of residents from southeast Los Angeles are calling for a total ban on marijuana businesses in their cities. The Committee to Ban Marijuana Businesses in Compton held a conference Tuesday afternoon in partnership with Smart Approaches to Marijuana — one of the other groups spearheading the effort — to address the issue.

Paul Riesgo is with Smart Approach to Marijuana and is also affiliated with the No on 64 campaign. He told KPCC the cities of Compton, Cudahy, Lynwood and Maywood are bearing the brunt of California's marijuana laws, including more marijuana dispensaries popping up in their neighborhoods.

Riesgo said that Compton has had the biggest problems. 

"There's an ordinance in place where medical dispensaries are actually banned in Compton, and have been banned since, I believe, 2008," he said.

Despite the ban, he said, there are many illegal dispensaries that are operating in the city. He says the city has not made an effort to shut them down. 

KPCC's request for comment from Compton's city attorney on the matter has not been returned.

Some dispensaries are located near schools, Riesgo said. The Compton Unified School District Board President, Satra Zurita, threatened legal action against the city because some of these dispensaries are found within 600 feet of schools. 

Last month, the city of Lynwood took steps toward legalizing marijuana cultivation

Smart Approach to Marijuana's call comes as Californians get ready to vote on Proposition 64 next month. That's the state measure that would make recreational marijuana legal for adults over 21. 

“[Some residents] feel that to allow recreational marijuana to be legalized is going to make it a bigger fight and it’s going to be much tougher, because now the cannabis industry will have the capital to work with — to fight against — the pushback that they get from these communities," Riesgo said. 

Supporters of Proposition 64 say it would set up a safe, legal system allowing adults to use recreational marijuana while also bringing in more than $1 billion a year and lowering court costs.

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