ABC7 Eyewitness Newsmakers:
MLK Community Hospital


By Adrienne Alpert

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — New plans for the vacant King Drew Medical Center were announced on Eyewitness Newsmakers. The 500,000-square-foot facility will be a new behavioral health center. Funding of $250 million will come from L.A. County’s Department of Health Services. The announcement was made exclusively by Eyewitness Newsmakers guests L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Dr. Elaine Batchlor, CEO of Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital.

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FAQs on Cannabis Legalization

Legalized Cannabis is Here

What L.A. County Residents Need to Know in 2018

With retail cannabis sales set to begin in California on Jan. 1, 2018, Los Angeles County residents should be aware of what is — and is not — permitted in their communities.

Although some local cities, including Los Angeles, have opted to permit commercial cannabis operations, many other areas have not, including unincorporated parts of L.A. County. In addition to meeting all local permitting requirements, cannabis businesses must also obtain licenses from the state of California.

Under the new state laws, sales of adult-use cannabis to people under the age of 21 are never permitted, and cannabis can only be purchased legally from licensed retail outlets. It will remain illegal to smoke cannabis in public or to drive under the influence.

Earlier this month, LA County’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) released a set of proposed cannabis policies for unincorporated areas of the county. The policies seek to “prioritize the protection of public safety and health as well as the quality of life in our communities,” and are tentatively scheduled for consideration by the LA County Board of Supervisors in January.

Supervisors already have adopted a health and sanitation ordinance for cannabis businesses. The ordinance, approved on Dec. 19, 2017, establishes clear health and safety standards for those preparing and selling cannabis products. The ordinance also requires businesses to abide by operational standards to avoid adversely affecting neighbors. The LA County Department of Public Health is working with cities that will permit commercial cannabis operations to implement the new ordinance countywide.

OCM is also developing a universal emblem program for cannabis retailers that will include a campaign to educate consumers. Once the program begins in the months ahead, the distinctive emblem, similar to a restaurant grade, will let consumers know at a glance whether a cannabis business is licensed.

For more information, including proposed cannabis regulations for the unincorporated areas, frequently asked questions, resources for parents and teens, and rules for personal cannabis cultivation, please visit:



Los Angeles County Office of Cannabis Management

Phone: (213-974-4530)



Spectrum News In Focus: Concerns about Legalizing Marijuana

LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas talks about his concerns over the legalization of marijuana.

Expanding Services for
the Sick, Injured and Homeless

Los Angeles County is giving more homeless patients a safe place to heal, and placing them on a path to housing.

Thanks to Measure H, the County added 250 beds to its recuperative care network just in the past year, bringing the total to 432 beds distributed across 12 locations in Metro and South Los Angeles, Long Beach, Sylmar and Bell. This allows homeless patients to avoid going back out on the streets, where they are at far greater risk of becoming ill or injured all over again

Jennifer Campbell said she was grateful to receive treatment at the 100-bed Martin Luther King, Jr. Recuperative Care Center (MLK RCC) in Willowbrook. “They brought me to a room, and I had my own bed, and I had my own space,” she said. “I was indeed grateful – I was just happy to be alive.”

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at grand opening of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Recuperative Care Center in 2016. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

The MLK RCC, part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Campus, opened in January 2016 and takes in about 600 patients a year. “The MLK RCC provides homeless patients with a place to heal and a path to recovery,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “In addition to temporary housing, they receive round-the-clock care, including nursing, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatments, life skills classes, and other services to help them achieve stability and transition into permanent supportive housing.”

A variety of nonprofit partners operate the County’s 12 recuperative care centers, but the Department of Health Services’ Housing for Health Division oversees the entire network.

A recently released three-year study by the RAND Corporation found Housing for Health initiatives, including recuperative care, saved taxpayers thousands of dollars by reducing hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

“Our hospitals are often hamstrung with no place to discharge homeless patients, necessitating that we hold up a bed for days when other patients truly need them,” County Health Agency director, Dr. Mitch Katz, said. “Recuperative care improves outcomes, reduces emergency room utilization, and creates health system savings that are more than offset by the costs of adding recuperative beds.”

One of the treatment rooms at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Recuperative Care Center. Photo by DHS.

The County’s recuperative care network provides short-term transitional care for homeless patients discharged by County-run and private hospitals, as well as those exiting custody facilities with complex health and behavioral health conditions. There, health practitioners can provide services like dressing changes and wound care for patients who no longer require hospitalization, but whose condition could worsen if they were to return to the street. They typically provide such ‘respite’ care over four to 10 weeks on average, depending on the patients’ needs.

While the patients are recovering, social workers will link them to transitional ‘bridge’ or permanent housing with wraparound supportive medical, substance abuse and behavioral health services that can help them remain housed and medically managed.

Over the next 10 years, Measure H will provide over $3 billion that will be dedicated to homeless programs such as wraparound supportive services for those living in independent housing, rental subsidies, street engagement teams, case management and homeless prevention efforts. Recuperative care beds and services are funded through several sources, including Measure H, which has funded the addition of 250 new recupe

Cannabis Legislation Update

The Office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas sponsored an online discussion and Q&A to give the public an update on marijuana regulations being drafted for Los Angeles County’s unincorporated areas following the approval of Prop. 64.

The Office of Cannabis Management presented a slideshow, conducted live polls, and answered questions from the public about the legalization of marijuana, as well as efforts to protect neighborhoods.