The Los Angeles City Council has voted to ban all medical marijuana dispensaries, with the possible exception of some that were opened before the city’s 2007 moratorium on medical pot shops, according to a report Wednesday in the Los Angles Times
The move aimed at tightening controls over the dispensing of medical marijuana drew immediate protests from pro-marijuana activists who showed up during the council’s unanimous vote on Tuesday, the Times reported. They threatened to push the issue to referendum, which is the same way the dispensaries were authorized in the state to begin with.
City officials, including Democratic Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief Charlie Beck, said the ban was directed primarily at dispensaries that they said had been or could be hot spots for crime.
Those in support of the ban noted that the city’s 762 marijuana shops now outnumber the city’s Starbuck’s establishments by a 2 to 1 margin. Beck said most of the shops are essentially "for-profit businesses engaged in the sale of recreational marijuana to healthy young adults."
But Steven Lubell, an attorney who represents several of the city's original dispensaries, said they weren’t going away. The city council move, he told the Times, would force the sale of marijuana in the city “to a darker side.”
Some city officials agreed with him. In addition to the ban, the council instructed its staff to draw up an immediate proposal to allow older, more established medical marijuana clinics to remain open, the Time reported, which led some council members to suggest that the police may not move to shut down many shops — other than those unlikely to meet any exemption requirements — until the exemption ordinance is completed and voted on by the council.
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