Tensions between neighborhood leaders fighting a surge in medical marijuana dispensaries and the industry's increasingly assertive supporters spilled into neighborhood politics over the weekend in a bitter contest for control of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council.
The fight featured fliers that promised free medical marijuana to those who cast ballots, powerful labor union backing of pro-dispensary candidates and a flood of voters from outside the neighborhood. In the end, only two of the dispensary backers won spots on the council, which advises City Hall on local issues.
Eagle Rock has long been ground zero in the battle over dispensaries, with its city-sanctioned neighborhood council calling on authorities to do more to curb the proliferation of pot shops. The neighborhood council backed a ban on storefront cannabis shops championed by City Councilman Jose Huizar that was recently adopted and then repealed by city lawmakers. And it cheered a recent federal crackdown on several pot shops in the neighborhood.
This year, a slate of candidates opposing the neighborhood council's "close-minded anti-dispensary mind-set" was organized, candidate Tim Ryder, a dispensary supporter, wrote in a local newspaper.