LA Marijuana Dispensary Laws: Part 1

By Kamika Dunlap on January 15, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The L.A. City Council crackdown on marijuana dispensary operations has been happening in stages.

As previously discussed, since the boom in marijuana dispensaries unlike that in any other California city, the LA council has been working strategically to restrict the number of dispensaries.

A new federal approach to medical marijuana laws also puts the onus on states to crack down on those who profit by selling pot to people who don't qualify as medical users.

In 2007, Los Angeles put registration requirements on those dispensaries which wanted to keep operating and a moratorium on opening any new dispensaries.

But as previously discussed, an ill-defined hardship exemption has allowed about 800 dispensaries to operate across the city. The unregulated hardship exemption basically allowed dispensary owners to set up shops in new locations, leading to the boom in dispensaries.

In June the City Council voted to stop taking any new hardship applications. The Council is now reviewing the 500+ applications previously filed.

Now, the council is weighing its marijuana dispensary rules. They are considering an ordinance, which caps the number of dispensaries at 70, but allows about 137 dispensaries that registered in 2007 and are still open in their original locations to stay in business.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the city council recently decided to prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries next to residences, but put off a vote on a controversial 500 feet or 1,000 buffer zone between marijuana dispensaries and any residential or other "sensitive" area (such as parks and schools).

For two years now, the city has wrestled with how to regulate pot clinics and the LA City Council is poised to make a crucial decision on that later this month.

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