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LA City Council Weighing Marijuana Dispensary Rules

By Kamika Dunlap on December 18, 2009 10:15 AM

The Los Angeles City Council recently put off (again) its vote of a proposed ordinance that would severely restrict the medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

As reported by the LA Times, the council previously agreed on capping the number of dispensaries at 70 (effectively at 137, including those that properly registered with the city). It had agreed to place a 1000 foot buffer zone between marijuana dispensaries and any residential or other "sensitive" area (such as parks and schools). 

The LA City Council shelved its vote (until January 13) on the dispensary ordinance after mapping the effects of the planned 1000 buffer made clear that the rule would effectively wipe out the vast majority of dispensaries (or force them to relocate). The specter of four or five big box pot dispensaries in remote areas has the council rethinking its buffer zone.

The LA Times cites city planners as having found that even 500 foot buffers would force 132 of 137 registered dispensaries to relocate. A 200 foot buffer would force 119 of them to move.

Sometime in the middle of January, the LA City Council is going to revisit the issue, though the math won't likely change in the meantime.

Meanwhile, L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley plans to crack down on the city's marijuana dispensaries.

He told city council members that no matter what they decide, he feels every dispensary in the city is operating illegally.

Any transaction of marijuana for money is still a sale, he added.

The California Attorney General's guidelines on enforcing medical marijuana laws conclude that only medical marijuana cooperatives or collectives are allowed -- and that medical marijuana cannot be cultivated or distributed for profit.

In our previous post, we've also discussed how Los Angeles has seen a boom in marijuana dispensaries unlike that in any other California city.

For two years now, the LA City Council has wrestled with the issue and currently is working on the fifth draft of a proposal to regulate pot clinics.

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