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L.A. City Council Slams Medical Pot Dispensaries

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The Los Angeles City Council is taking steps to crack down on businesses selling legal-in-California medical marijuana, after a previous attempt to ban new ones failed due to a "hardship exemption."

From the L.A. Times' report:

When the city adopted the moratorium in 2007, it allowed 186 dispensaries to stay open. Now there are 600 or more.On Tuesday, council members labored for eight hours to reassert authority over a situation they said was out of control. The marathon session came months after city officials learned that dispensaries were violating the moratorium with impunity. The moratorium included a provision that allowed dispensaries to file hardship exemption applications with the council. The city attorney's office had declined to take legal action to shut down any dispensaries with pending exemption requests. And the City Council had failed to act on them until Tuesday. About 550 applications for exemptions have been filed.

L.A.'s "Blogdowntown" has further explanation about the exemption law:

City ordinance 179027, which went into effect in the fall of 2007, prohibits new marijuana dispensaries from opening in the city of Los Angeles. It was intended to allow the city time to craft rules to govern the facilities, which multiplied after the 1996 passage of SB 215 (The Compassionate Use Act).Included in the ordinance was a hardship exemption, which allows the City Council to "grant an exemption from the provisions of this ordinance in cases of hardship duly established to the satisfaction of the City Council." That language could also be struck from the ordinance by Council on Tuesday.

No word yet on whether the City Council is prepared to decide that other businesses selling legal products constitute menaces to society--except for fast food restaurants in certain neighborhoods. Except for a comment from Council President Eric Garcetti about neighborhoods feeling "under siege" by the storefronts, the stories don't have much in the way of explanation of why the Council thinks medical pot dispensaries are a public menace needing their action.

For some historical context, see this interesting account from 2007 on Drug Enforcement Administration military-style raids on L.A. pot dispensaries from the late, lamented L.A. CityBeat.

(Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

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