Crime & Justice

LA city council engages in sharp debate over medical pot

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Passions ran hot Wednesday as the Los Angeles City Council once again debated new regulations on medical marijuana dispensaries.

The debate focused on where the city should allow dispensaries to operate.

Westside Councilman Bill Rosendahl recounted how his longtime partner used marijuana as he died of AIDS.

“I frankly believe it is a medicinal herb and it should be treated with the same respect we treat drug stores and not treated in the back alley," said Rosendahl as the council chamber erupted in cheers from marijuana patients and users.

“Mr. Rosendahl, I appreciate your passion. I just disagree with it," said Greig Smith of the San Fernando Valley.

Smith said that pot shops create crime problems like burglaries, and should be kept away from homes.

That drew boos from the crowd.

"Boo me, Boo me, I don’t care," said Smith.

Councilwoman Jan Perry suggested letting council members choose whether dispensaries should be 500 or 1,000 feet away from homes in their districts.

She introduced the motion after Senior City Planner Alan Bell said dispensaries would be banned from almost every city neighborhoods under her original proposal — adopted by the council last week — to keep dispensaries 1,000 feet away from a variety of "sensitive" places.

Those places include residences, schools, public parks and libraries, religious institutions, licensed child care facilities, youth centers, hospitals, medical facilities, rehab centers and other marijuana dispensaries.

The council expects to take a final vote on a medical marijuana ordinance next month.

KPCC news wires contributed to this report