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Last updateMon, 25 May 2015 2pm

LOS ANGELES Wednesday, May 27th 2015 10:43

WAGE RAISE RAGE

  • WHO WE ARE-Nearly half of Los Angeles just gave itself a raise. Following a wave of state and local minimum-wage bills and initiatives, Los Angeles became one of the largest cities to dramatically raise its hourly base pay and join Seattle to hit the magic $15-an-hour demand pushed by labor and community groups nationwide. The City Council…
  • ​City Snookered by Westfield Billionaires

    Jack Humphreville
    LA WATCHDOG-In March of 2014, the Herb Wesson led City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti approved a 25 year, $48 million giveaway to help the $28.5 billion Westfield Corporation finance its $250 million development, The Village at Westfield Topanga. (Photo) But this subsidy championed by Councilman Bob Blumenfield was hardly necessary as The Village…
  • Slick With Denial: ‘Self-Regulation’ and the Latest Oil Spill

    Judith Lewis Mernit
    HISTORY LESSONS IGNORED-On Wednesday, May 20, the day after a Santa Barbara County fire inspector discovered a stream of contaminated crude oil flowing onto a pristine segment of the Southern California coast, a group of researchers published a study linking the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill to a mass die-off of bottlenose dolphins. The 46…
  • Scaremongering about the Patriot Act Sunset

    Jameel Jaffer
    FALSE CLAIMS EXPOSED-In a last-ditch effort to scare lawmakers into preserving unpopular and much-abused surveillance authorities, the Senate Republican leadership and some intelligence officials are warning that allowing Section 215 of the Patriot Act to sunset would compromise national security. (One particularly crass example from Senator…
  • Still the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave

    Ken Alpern
    ALPERN AT LARGE-It's been another year and another successful Flag Placement at the West Los Angeles National Cemetery. Crawling out of bed in the morning on a holiday weekend to show up bright and early for a show of American patriotism and respect to our veterans and fallen heroes, the region and nation saw yet again how the Boy Scouts, Girl…
  • Retaliation: VA Police Target Veterans

    Robert L. Rosebrock
    LOS ANGELES – Recently, I was interviewed by John Ismay, an Iraqi War Veteran who is the “Veterans and Military Issues Reporter” for Southern California Public Radio. We met at the Los Angeles VA to discuss the never-ending misappropriation of land at this largest VA in the nation, within our nation’s capital for homeless Veterans. We were…
  • City Controller’s Grandstanding DWP Audit is the Real Waste of Ratepayer Dollars

    Dennis Zine
    JUST THE FACTS-City Controller Ron Galperin’s Grandstanding DWP Audit results were finally released. Unfortunately, the conclusion and political spin that came afterwards from the controller was misleading. Here are the FACTS: The DWP’s Joint Training Institute and Joint Safety Institute are administered by DWP managers and representatives of the…
  • A Place Where ‘Special Interest’ is NOT a Dirty Word

    Denyse Selesnick
    MY TURN-We need to have a new word to differentiate the villainous “Special Interest” that everyone is always complaining about and the “Special Interest” that almost all of politicians and civic and social activists have adopted as a cause. It is impossible to have passion about multiple issues. I know I have mentioned this before, but it seems…
  • Alert! America’s Small Businesses are Being Screwed by Big Business

    Robert Reich
    THE ECONOMY-Can it be that America’s small businesses are finally waking up to the fact they’re being screwed by big businesses? For years, small-business groups such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses have lined up behind big businesses lobbies. (Photo: small businesses in Studio City) They’ve contributed to the same Republican…

 

  • Can Strawberries Help Fight Cancer?

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-There have been a number of studies over the years that could show evidence of strawberries fighting off cancer. Tong Chen lead a study…
  • Study: The Best Way to Quit Smoking … Bet On It

    Francie Diep
    WELLNESS-Oftentimes, money speaks louder than words. Apparently, that aphorism applies to cigarettes too. A new study finds that money incentives…
  • Exercise Can Help Anxiety … Here’s How

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-Statistics show that over 3 million American adults suffer from anxiety and there is no evidence that number will be declining any time…




ICYMI-Amy Schumer shows Dave her vagina

Remembering Ann Meara: 1929-2015

The Star Spangled Banner … like you’ve never heard it before

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Pot Pharms: Responsible Dispensaries or Roach Motels?

OUT OF THE PAN - In its continuing effort to be as sensationalistic as possible, the Los Angeles Times this Sunday ran what purported to be a big expose on the medical cannabis industry under the heading, “The Green Rush.”
Set aside that this sounds like maybe the worst Marvel superhero, or perhaps what happens at an environmentalist frat house. What exactly have they exposed here? That the industry is weakly regulated? That there are too many sketchy players in this industry? That there’s a lot of uncertainty moving forward?
(Ed note: City Council plans to take up two proposals to control pot shops in LA this Friday. See agenda at lacity.org)

I’m not really sure that the LA Times is the first to point this stuff out, but it’s all true and it does deserve to be said again. The article takes an in-depth look at court records and police records to show that a sizeable chunk of the industry appears to be primarily concerned with profiting off of patients – in apparent violation of 1996’s Compassionate Use Act.

As the Times points out, “Few would suggest that everyone in the industry is making huge profits; many dispensaries do struggle to stay afloat.” (The article also acknowledges, almost as an afterthought, “the relief truly ill patients” get from the medicine – relief they would be denied were dispensaries to be banned.)

Why are some dispensaries raking in money while others struggle? Not to put too fine a point on it, but it’s because some dispensaries try to play by the rules – at least so far as there are rules and they’re understood.

One dispensary owner profiled in the piece – described as “struggling just to make payroll” – pays “state and federal taxes, workers’ compensation and liability insurance for employees, as well as attorney fees,” taking her own salary “when she can.” This responsible behavior puts her at a competitive disadvantage relative to those who try to stay underground and save on all of those costs.

At a recent forum, I heard one dispensary owner talk about the additional costs of properly classifying his staff as W-2 employees, and paying all employment taxes – while the sketchy operators proliferating nearby were classifying their staff as 1099 “independent contractors.” (I’ve written previously about why this matters.)

These are the sorts of distinctions that differentiate types of dispensaries: those that are trying to operate responsibly versus those that are out for a quick buck. And unfortunately, there are way too many out for the quick buck.

(As a side note, let’s recognize what it means for an establishment to be a not-for-profit. It does not mean that it receives no income. It does not mean that no one receives a salary. Dispensaries still need to pay their staff. Do you think that the head of the United Way takes no compensation? (More than $800,000 in 2010.) Do you think that the 30,000 employees of the Red Cross work for free? Hell, do you think that I work for free? I’m sure that we could all do better in the private sector, but even I have a mortgage to pay.)

The problem is that the City of Los Angeles – along with most nearby cities – has steadfastly refused to provide a firm regulatory scheme in which these responsible players can operate—and which would allow the city to then shut down all of the quick-buck profit-takers. The city has been asleep at the switch, and while it’s been snoozing, the low-road operators have spread like, well, like kudzu. (What did you think I was going to say?)

As the union – Local 770 of the United Food and Commercial Workers now represents workers at more than 20 responsible, high-road dispensaries – has repeatedly pointed out (and has been echoed by other voices), Yes, we need strong regulations. Yes, we need to get the sketchiness out of this industry. Yes, we need real, enforceable standards for patients and for workers. Yes, we need to seriously crack down and get rid of most of the dispensaries currently operating.

And the city needs to move on this posthaste. This means clarity and regulations and enforcement, but it does not mean a total ban on the high-road operators.

For the sake of patients and workers, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

(Jon Zerolnick is LAANE’s research director. This piece was posted first at fryingpannews.org)
-cw

Tags: Jon Zerolnick, pot pharms, pot shops, medical marijuana shops, medical pot, City Attorney, City Hall, Los Angles









CityWatch
Vol 10 Issue 49
Pub: June 19, 2012

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