Council Moves Closer To Closing Most Pot Shops

The Los Angeles City Counci

l on Tuesday was one step closer to closing a vast majority of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city by capping the number of allowed pot shops at 137 -- the number of survivors from the days before the city's (overturned and generally ignored) 2007 moratorium on new pot stores.

The language limiting the number of dispensaries will be inserted into an overall pot-shop ordinance to be voted on at a later time. The City Attorney's office came up with the 137 figure after looking at the 186 shops opened before a 2007 city moratorium on new outlets and subtracting ones that closed or took on new owners since then. The rest of the city's dispensaries -- there are a total of 545 in operation by LA Weekly's count -- would have to close.

The council actually wants to see closer to 70 dispensaries citywide and argued that other proposed limitations such as requirements that they be no closer than 500 feet from a school could weed the 137 down closer to that goal.

The city has struggled with the growth of dispensaries, which have mushroomed without much local regulation. One major point of the new law will likely be that pot shops must operate on a nonprofit, collective basis, with annual audits that prove so. The dispensaries will also likely be limited to selling pot it grows on-site, with members who can't be associates of any other collective. --With reporting from Patrick Range McDonald at City Hall.

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