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People Are Out of Joint as LA Shuts down Most Medical Marijuana Dispensaries


The LA City Council approved an ordinance on Tuesday that would close down most of the 1,000 medical marijuana dispensaries making the use of marijuana in the remaining outlets illegal.

The city counsel met Tuesday and voted to close down the majority of medical marijuana dispensaries. This is a set back for backers of medical marijuana who worked for years to get it legal. It is a victory for community groups that have complained about the increase of the dispensaries near residential neighborhoods, schools and parks.

“These are out of control,” Councilman Ed Reyes, chairman of the Council’s planning and who oversaw the writing of the ordinance. “Our city has more of these than Starbuckses.” Los Angeles has more of the outlets than any other city in the dozen or so states that allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

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The measure, which passed on a 9-to-3 vote, is to impose strict rules on the location of the dispensaries. The remaining ones are to be moved to more densely industrial zones and will have to restrict their hours. The ordinance will limit the number of dispensaries. to 70, but it appears that there will be even fewer.

Many pot peddlers said today that they will be unable to find suitable locations because the City Council also added such tough restrictions. It imposes stringent security measures and requires them to operate as nonprofit collectives, with each patient limited to having cannabis prescriptions filled from just one dispensary. "To us it looks like the council has a de facto ban on medical marijuana," said Kris Hermes, spokesman for the pro-medical marijuana group Americans for Safe Access.

They also said that landlords, aware that there are very few buildings that can meet the tight location restrictions, are already jacking up rents. "We are prepared to go forward and stop this ordinance," said Dan Lutz, who operates the Green Oasis dispensary. "I regret that we have to go this route."

Officials with the Los Angeles Police Department said they are working on a plan to close the shops that were not properly registered, but are hoping for voluntary compliance with the law.