LA Marijuana Dispensary Laws: Part 3

By Kamika Dunlap on January 19, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

After long delays, the L.A. City Council has settled on its controversial medical marijuana ordinance, tentatively approving dispensaries to be at least 1,000 feet from places where children congregate, such as schools, parks and libraries.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the council gave preliminary approval to the 1,000-foot buffer zones and will vote again in a week because the 11-3 tally fell short of the 12-0 result that an ordinance needs to pass on the first reading.

But today's vote, however, has put an end to months long debate over the city's fast-spreading pot outlets. The city council has been hammering out its medical marijuana laws to cap the number of dispensaries.

Council members were presented two drafts of the medical marijuana ordinance, both of which include capping the number of clinics at 70.

The main difference between the two versions is the distance dispensaries should be from schools, parks and other public gathering spots. In addition, the ordinance shuts down shops that don't comply with the new law.

As previously discussed, L.A. has experienced a boom in marijuana dispensaries unlike any other California city despite a moratorium on new clinics.

Other cities around the state, including San Francisco, Oakland and West Hollywood have been able to better regulate medical marijuana.

Since 2005, the number of pot shops in Los Angeles has grown from a mere four to roughly 1,000. As previously discussed, the proliferation of clinics exploded in 2009 -- more than 600 over the past 10 months alone -- despite a 2007 city moratorium prohibiting new medical marijuana dispensaries.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said his office will target pot clinics that profit and sell to people who don't qualify for medical marijuana. Cooley said he believes state law authorizes the possession, use and cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes, but not the sale of the drug.

Under the ordinance, dispensaries would have to close until they comply with the new local law. City officials would seek an injunction against those who don't.


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