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LA Marijuana Dispensary Laws: Part 2

By Kamika Dunlap on January 19, 2010 9:10 AM

The L.A. City Council has voted to prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries next to residences.

As previously discussed, the decision is a part of the city's ongoing effort to tackle the controversial issue of how to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, hundreds of marijuana dispensaries have opened and city officials can do little to close them without a law.

Now, only a few contentious issues are left to resolve - including where dispensaries can locate and how many will be allowed.

The city council will address that at their next meeting as they approach home stretch of approving final medical marijuana dispensary rules, as previously discussed.

They are considering limiting medical marijuana dispensaries primarily to industrial areas. Those would include the harbor and industrial areas in the San Fernando Valley and downtown Los Angeles, according to a report by Planning Department.

According to the 15-page ordinance, it caps the number of dispensaries at 70, but allows shops that officially registered with the city and are still open in their original locations to remain in business. City officials estimate that there are at least 137 such dispensaries.

The council has apparently submitted two versions of the law to the City Attorney's office for drafting and consideration their upcoming meeting.

Option 1: Restrict dispensaries 1,000 feet from sensitive uses and adjacent to residences. Sensitive uses include schools, public parks, public libraries, child care facilities, youth centers, substance abuse and rehab centers and other medical marijuana facilities. It would also force the relocation of all but four of the 137 existing dispensaries that the city has agreed to keep open.

Option 2: Restricts facilities to 500 feet from sensitive uses and adjacent to residences. Dispensaries would be allowed in 4 percent of the city's commercial land and 51 percent of its industrial land. This scenario would force all but six of the allowed 137 dispensaries to move elsewhere.

According to the Los Angeles Times, once the ordinance takes effect, the city can move to shut down renegade dispensaries, but it is likely to face legal challenges that could slow down the process.

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