Two Los Angeles City Council committees approved nearly $1,600 in fees for medical marijuana dispensaries, marking the beginning of the end for hundreds of pop shops that will be wiped out by a city ordinance that severely limits where they can operate.
The fees will fund criminal background checks for the shops' managers, but they're also the last component of the ordinance, with one councilman predicting that noncompliant shops will start being shut down in May. The fees still need to be approved by the ever-slow-moving city council, which has been facing an anarchic, blossoming medical marijuana scene in L.A.
City officials warned would-be pot-shop runners to register with the city now so the background checks can begin.
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The City Council's Planning and Land Use Management and Budget and Finance committees on Tuesday approved about $1,595 in registration fees. Councilman Ed Reyes said the city would hopefully begin enforcing its new medical marijuana dispensary rules in May.
About 545 shops are in operation in the city, according to a comprehensive count by LA Weekly (PDF). The City Council voted to reduce that to 187 and eventually 70. One way they'll be weeded out: The shops must be at least 1,000 feet away from schools, churches and other "sensitive use" sites.
The pro-medical-marijuana group Americans for Safe Access has challenged the ordinance in court and now states that it might also seek a temporary restraining order to prevent any shops from being closed down under the law.
-With reporting from LA Weekly's wire services.