Given the possibility that multiple initiatives to more broadly legalize the sale, use and growing of marijuana could make it to the statewide ballot later this year, it seems to us the prudent thing to do is start developing local policies to control where and when pot can be smoked or otherwise consumed in public places, just as we have for alcohol and cigarette use.
All you have to do is take a look at how ill-prepared Los Angeles was for the opening of medical marijuana dispensaries, and still is, to know that same lack of planning could result in even more problems, and not just in L.A.
City Attorney Mike Feuer says his office is investigating and closing down unauthorized pot dispensaries, but those efforts are reactive, not proactive, akin to trying to “put the genie back in the bottle,” as the saying goes.
Not only has there been confusion over permitting, but there has also been very little policy regarding important concerns like proper ventilation, and the impact of second-hand smoke flowing to neighboring businesses and passersby, including children.
The possibility that voters could approve legalization this year or next should have elected officials and local policy makers scrambling to begin to develop local control measures in their jurisdictions.
Liquor store operators can not allow alcohol consumption in or around their premises; there are controls on the number of alcohol licenses allowed in certain areas and controls on signage advertising product availability, as well as other dictates when there are security concerns. The same should hold true for pot shops and where marijuana can be consumed.
In Highland Park, a pot shop on Figueroa and Avenue 59 is located right next to a bus stop and a community clinic, where babies, pregnant women and school students catch the bus. They are exposed to the fumes from the shop and its sometimes-careless patrons. Despite restrictions on hours of operation, this dispensary and others like it remain open long after the closing time specified in operating regulations.
Imagine if there were no regulations at all.