On Monday evening, the West Hollywood City Council will discuss an anti-smoking ordinance that would in fact be a ban on smoking cannabis in new apartment buildings.
The regulation would change the municipal law to ban smoking in public areas and new units in apartment buildings. It would also launch a registration program that would require the determination of a unit's smoking status, which would transform the entire city's apartment buildings into non-smoking units.
Critics argue that the measure wrongly associates cannabis with tobacco, although it has not been proven that cannabis causes lung cancer, heart disease, or other life-threatening diseases. California NORML found that cannabis cannot be legally consumed in public places in addition to health data.
CANORML is now asking West Hollywood residents and medical cannabis patients to contact the council and tell them to remove cannabis from the measure. They also argue that the measure unfairly discriminates against disadvantaged minority and minority residents who cannot afford their own homes.
One of the longstanding cannabis champions in West Hollywood is Council member John Duran. We reached out to hear his opinion on the regulation. First, he told us what impact this would have on the city's legacy as a pioneering medical cannabis community in Southern California.
"I think this proposal is a total devastation of all the work we have done on cannabis for decades. I mean, weeds have been on the Sunset Strip for well over 100 years, right? And of course the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center: The first medical marijuana collective in Southern California was founded here in West Hollywood when I was legal adviser to the center with Reverend Scott Imler, ”Duran told L.A. Weekly.
Efforts to kick-start WeHo's medical scene would ultimately lead to the only time the United States government enforced drug-loss laws against a community. West Hollywood bought the building that housed the collective and was then hit by a wave of cannabis raids carried out by the Feds after September 11th.
Duran spoke of the four original operators that eventually led to the major approval process in recent years. “They know the four originals that still exist and then go through a multi-million dollar process to get people to apply for cannabis licenses and compete over a multi-year process to get one of the golden tickets to those licenses . All of the work and effort that we have made. We honored Cheech and Chong on the Sunset Strip two years ago with the key to the city for the humor and awareness they brought to cannabis, all of that in smoke, forgive the pun, ”said Duran.
He called the proposed language of the anti-smoking regulation "draconian" and "harmful" for West Hollywood's values as a city.
"I think the city is a place where we live and let live," said Duran. "We have great tolerance for other people's lifestyles. You can come here, you can be LGBT if you want, you can be Communist or Socialist if you want, you can be anything you want in this city. And that is our core, the core of our being. "
Duran believes that proponents of the regulation are trying to link health claims between tobacco and cannabis, forgetting what West Hollywood is all about.
"I think ignoring the city and its place in history and the legacy of work that you and I are talking about is so harmful to the city," said Duran: "I don't understand the public health arguments, I understand the arguments for public health. I don't drink I don't smoke I don't smoke weed. I do not do drugs. I don't do any more of it. "
These personal health decisions brought Duran back to the heart of his reasoning on the subject: "But I won't impose my lifestyle on other people who choose to do some or all of these things." I mean, that's the heart of West Hollywood, isn't it? It is an adult city, 5% of our population are children. "
Danny Rivas, Code Compliance Manager at West Hollywood, explained the mechanism that would prevent even medical marijuana patients from smoking in apartment buildings if the regulation in Section 11362.79 of the California Health and Safety Code is passed.
We asked if the regulation failed. Would patients living in homes still be able to walk well since there would be no local anti-smoking regulations that could interact with this part of the state health and safety law?
"That is correct. Because the only time that this section of state would be included or implemented would be the adoption [of the regulation] because it would speak to subsection A of the section," he replied, "and if this happens, it is then state law comes in and we would essentially address these issues as they occurred, but if it doesn't happen then yes you know smoke cannabis based on the complaints we have received and we support ourselves only on this information people have provided us based on this information, which I would expect to occur. "
Rivas said there is currently no recourse to the city when people complain about smoking: "There is nothing we can do." If they accept it, we can do something. "
Rivas said the city officials added in their report to the city council the problems that would arise for qualified patients: "I think it is an important point to draw the city council's attention to, you know? In that sense, it would this will ultimately affect qualified patients as listed in the section. "
Rivas states that due to the way state law is formulated, there is no mechanism for a community to cut cannabis when writing anti-smoking measures. He argues that state law could be changed in the future, "but you couldn't just make an exception that contradicts the provisions of state law."