(Jan. 11, 2010) -- LBPD police raids in mid-December on some LB marijuana outlets (previously reported by LBReport.com, here and here) triggered unscheduled discussion at the January 5, 2010 LB City Council meeting with comments by several Councilmembers and the City Attorney on medical marijuana issues.
The discussion began when some members of the public used the period for comments on non-agendized items to criticize the LBPD's actions...which prompted several Councilmembers to question the City’s involvement (which LBPD has previously indicated was coordinated with the L.A. County District Attorney's office).
City Attorney Robert Shannon stressed during the meeting that the legality of the raids was not up to the City Council or to a currently pending marijuana-outlet regulation ordinance that his office is preparing for Council consideration later this month. (The Council discussed an initial draft in November and directed changes for further discussion).
"This really has nothing to do with our [now pending] ordinance," Shannon said. "As I said repeatedly, you [City council] don’t have the authority to make something illegal legal."
On December 17, L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley issued search warrants aimed at some LB marijuana outlets.
The raids were a cooperative effort involving LBPD and other agencies, LBPD interim Police Chief Billy Quach said during the meeting. LBPD has previously indicated there were allegations of illegal activities at some locations; to our knowledge, no charges have been filed to date against the searched outlets.
Councilwomen Rae Gabelich said her main concern was about the medical patients "caught in the middle" of the raids. "I think most of us were equally surprised when the raids took place," Councilwoman Gabelich said to one of the speakers commenting.
Councilwomen Suja Lowenthal expressed interest in the operation's costs...and said she wanted to know the extent to which police resources were used.
"I am concerned if our police resources are utilized but perhaps we are not reimbursed for those costs and we’re living quite in an era where we need to accountable of the resources expended," Councilwoman Lowenthal said. She compared the marijuana-related raids to recent federal immigration raids, in which city officials were also not involved.
City Attorney Shannon said the Council could not direct the law enforcement activities of the police department.
"What is unlawful is unlawful," Shannon said.
Most of the frustration and blame, he said later in the meeting, should be directed at Sacramento. "The state legislation is extremely poorly drawn...It put local entities in a position of conflict." He added, "The problem here that is extremely frustrated at our level is to see City Councils like yourselves struggle with this issue when you ability to solve the problem."
The now-pending ordinance came up during the meeting...and City Attorney Shannon said his office’s plans to present it at the Jan. 19 Council meeting.
As separately reported by LBReport.com (link below), a bill is currently advancing in the CA Assembly (AB 390) that proposes to legalize and tax marijuana under CA law:
With On-Demand Extended Audio: Hear Ass'yman Furutani Oppose AB 390 That Would Legalize Marijuana Sales/Taxation Under CA Law; LBPOA Also Opposes Measure...As Ass'y Public Safety Committee Votes 4-3 To Advance Bill To Health Committee