Boxed Out: Leah Abdenour had to shut down her medical pot delivery business.

Boxed Out: Leah Abdenour had to shut down her medical pot delivery business. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

The groups behind a scheduled fundraiser in Hollywood this past weekend for the medical marijuana industry cancelled the event after receiving word from the Los Angeles Police Department that the event was regarded as unlawful.

The fundraiser, which was previewed by the L.A. Business Journal, was supposed to take place this past Sunday at a Hollywood yoga studio/café. The goal was to raise about $30,000 to fund three marijuana groups - Los Angeles Citizen Task Force on Medical Cannabis Regulation, the California Growers Association and the California Cannabis Delivery Alliance - to pressure city of L.A. officials to open up the medical marijuana industry.

Voters in Los Angeles passed Measure D three years ago, capping the number of medical marijuana businesses at 135, the number of dispensaries that were operating when the city passed a moratorium on dispensary businesses a few years earlier.

Under a new state law, every medical marijuana business must be licensed by its local municipality by next year. L.A. city officials are now drawing up their licensing plan. Existing dispensaries have been pushing hard for the city to give them priority in any new licensing system.

Hundreds of other medical marijuana businesses - including cultivators, delivery services, edibles manufacturers, and marijuana oil extractors - want to compete on equal footing. They have spent the last several weeks mobilizing and building their own war chest for the upcoming battle, which might include one or more ballot measures in March. The fundraiser was to raise money and awareness for this effort.

On Saturday, organizers sent out an email postponing the fundraiser indefinitely after receiving word from the LAPD that the department regarded the event as unlawful.

“We are sincerely disappointed in the stance of the LAPD that our party was unlawful,” said Josh Weissman, a spokesman for the organizers. “But it highlights the need for clear regulations to be constructed around all facets of the cannabis industry to prevent negative interactions between the community and law enforcement.”

A call and email to the LAPD seeking the department’s response were not returned by press time.

Public policy and energy reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.

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