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L.A. Council Votes To Close 475 Marijuana Dispensaries

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Tue, Jan 19, 2010 at 2:42 PM

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The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday gave tentative approval to a law that would eventually shut down all but 70 of the city's medical marijuana dispensaries. The ordinance would some day close down 475 of the 545 pot stores that the Weekly has found to be up and operating.

The council has been working on such an ordinance for more than three years, and in that time the number of dispensaries has mushroomed, with little regulation about where they get their marijuana or how, exactly, it's sold. The new law, which would need a second vote next week for final approval, would change all that.

In the 11-3 vote the council backed away from a 500 foot barrier for schools, churches and rehab centers and went with 1,000 feet after some council members complained the 500-foot zone would put too many pot shops out of business in their districts. (In the council vote, Bernard Parks, Jan Perry and Bill Rosendahl dissented, and Tom LaBonge was absent).

The ordinance will allow the 137 dispensaries that registered with the city before Nov. 13, 2007, when a temporary moratorium on new shops (with a huge loophole, and ultimately shut down by a court) was enacted, to stick around for a while. But they'll have to adhere to new rules, including a vow that any cash for pot is nonprofit, and submitting to annual audits.

The ordinance would whittle the number of dispensaries down to 70 as some in those 137 are closed for violations or go out of business.

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