Illicit Pot Shops In L.A. Get A Reprieve As City Determines Only 41 Would Be Legal Under Its New Law

The Los Angeles City Clerk on Wednesday stated that only 41 of Los Angeles' marijuana dispensaries are eligible to stay open under the strict pot-shop ordinance that went into effect in June (PDF). However, the clerk stated, other shops would be allowed to operate until lawsuits against the city over its ordinance were settled.

The Los Angeles Times reported that all 30 lawsuits would be heard beginning Sept. 21. "Until then, you are not precluded from continuing your interim operation as a collective as long as long as you comply with all other provisions of California state law," the clerk's statement reads.

The clerk's finding appears to be a surprise, as the City Council, in passing the ordinance, hoped to maintain at least 70 legal shops and as many as 130 or so hold outs that had opened before an ill-fated 2007 moratorium.

But the law is quite strict about how close pot shops can be from schools, churches and other "sensitive use" sites; and it requires specific hours of operations, security procedures and audits that would verify the operations as nonprofit.

In May the Los Angeles Police Department counted 583 pot shops in L.A. By summer, however, the City Attorney's office cracked down on pot shops outlawed by the ordinance and stated that all but 20 or 30 had closed -- besides the 130 or so presumed to be eligible to seek city permits.

Some, including as many as five in Eagle Rock, appeared to defy the city, however. Others have tried to find loopholes, including closing their doors to anyone but old members and delivering weed out the back door, to stay in business.

Under the city ordinance, if the number of legit pot shops falls below 70, operators can apply to be part of a lottery for additional permits.


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