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CA: Shooting At Pot Dispensary Kills 1, Wounds 1

June 30, 2010

CA: Shooting At Pot Dispensary Kills 1, Wounds 1
LA Times / 06/25/2010 / Robert J Lopez

A worker at a medical marijuana dispensary in Echo Park was killed and another was wounded Thursday evening in an apparent robbery, police said.

Shots were fired after an unknown number of suspects stormed into the Higher Patch Holistic Care store at 1302 Sunset Blvd. shortly before 4:15 p.m., the Los Angeles Police Department said.

The shooting comes as Los Angeles officials attempt to regulate hundreds of marijuana stores that have popped up amid California’s dispensary boom.
Los Angeles became an epicenter of dispensary activity after the Obama administration announced in March 2009 that it would not prosecute medical marijuana stores that adhered to state law that allows selling and using medical marijuana in certain instances. Although the city had a moratorium on new dispensaries, officials failed to enforce the ban and hundreds of stores opened virtually overnight with no oversight.

Regulating the stores has sparked a heated debate between residents and officials, who say the stores attract crime, and supporters, who say the dispensaries offer patients legitimate medication for illnesses including cancer and glaucoma.

In March, LAPD detectives served search warrants at East Hollywood and Mid-Wilshire clinics and arrested three people as part of an investigation sparked by complaints from area residents. And in September, police arrested a suspect in connection with several robberies at marijuana dispensaries in the San Fernando Valley.

The city attorney’s office notified 439 stores that they had to close their doors June 7. But according to records from the Los Angeles city clerk’s office, dozens of dispensaries ā€” including the one where Thursday’s slaying occurred ā€” have challenged the order, contending they have a legal right to stay open.

In Thursday’s shooting, LAPD Officer Rosario Herrera said investigators “believe it’s a robbery” that led to the violence but had not determined what was taken. The suspects fled and had not been apprehended as of Thursday night.

See original posting: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0625-pot-shooting-20100625,0,4535737.story

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