With reporting from Steve Appleford
If you've had any doubt about the true reasons for the City Council's multi-year reluctance to rein in the city's burgeoning but largely unregulated (and sometimes shady) medical marijuana trade, all you you had to do was witness Wednesday's City Council meeting on the matter: An ordinance that would kill off most of the city's pot stores was put off yet again so that council members could figure out ways to keep more dispensaries in business.
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Westside Councilman Bill Rosendahl actually complained that a version of the proposal would "leave me four or five" dispensaries in District 11 "at the most." "I believe marijuana should be in the sunshine, not in the dark alley, not in the most seedy neighborhoods," he said. (Note that the New Jersey legislature's recent approval of medical marijuana would establish only six government-run dispensaries to serve one of the biggest states in the union).
The council ultimately rejected the harshest section of the proposed ordinance, one that would have prevented pot shops from existing with 500 feet of residences. City News Service reported that the restriction would kill all but four of the 137 dispensaries the council has proposed to let live. (L.A. Weekly counts 545 pot shops operating in the city now).
But the body put off a vote on the entire law once again as it went back to the drawing board to reflect its rejection of the 500-foot rule. Some were disappointed by the city's continued foot-dragging. Mike Larsen of the Eagle Rock Community Council said, "This is about taking control of an out of control situation that has made Los Angeles the laughing stock of the nation."
"It's a rerun," Yamileth Bolanos of the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance told the Weekly. "It's déjà vu. Nothing happened. They're still discussing it and they're still confused. They ought to step up to the plate and make a decision pretty soon, and step up for the patients."